HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania withstood a spending spree by coal-industry millionaire Republican Tom Smith to win a second term Tuesday in a race in which the political scion had been heavily favored.
Casey's victory also cements a seat that Democrats had counted on in the struggle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Casey, 52, of Scranton, an ally of organized labor, had been a heavy, early favorite and was way ahead in polls through August. But Smith, a tea party favorite who made a fortune in western Pennsylvania's coal-mining industry, invested more than $16 million of his own money in the race, hammering Casey for three months on TV and radio and forcing Casey to mount a strong response in the final weeks.
Smith called Casey to concede, Casey's campaign manager Larry Smar said.
Although Casey had strong name recognition because he is the son of the late former Gov. Robert P. Casey, many voters were still learning the identities of the candidates in the final days before the election as the men campaigned in the shadow of the presidential race.
Counting spending by outside groups, Smith was on course to outspend Casey, $18 million to less than $9 million after July 1.
Casey first won the office in 2006 after soundly beating arch-conservative Sen. Rick Santorum. Based on preliminary results of an exit poll, independent voters split their votes about evenly between Casey and Smith, representing a huge drop in support for Casey compared with 2006.
The former state treasurer and auditor general ran as a moderate who put the interests of this diverse state ahead of party leaders. Casey had supported President Barack Obama's signature policies, including his sweeping health care law, economic stimulus bill and overhaul of financial-sector regulations.