Casey and Smith await results in tight Senate race

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Today was about retail campaigning for Bob Casey, who visited diners in the Scranton area where most people he ran into had already voted, and for him, he said.

"This is my home area so don't read too much into that," he cautioned several reporters he spoke with late this afternoon at the Hilton Scranton Hotel & Conference Center.

Mr. Casey said he expects a close contest in his battle to keep his U.S. Senate seat from Tom Smith, the Armstrong County Republican challenging him. Still, he said he's feeling confident.

Perhaps not as confident, though, as Jim Burn, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Mr. Burn said he expects a blowout and predicted that Mr. Casey will even win rural counties that typically swing red.

"He's going to win big tonight. Bob Casey is going to run away with this," said Mr. Burn, who also was at the Hilton.

Mr. Casey will be watching the results with his extended family who plan to gather over sandwiches at the Casey home in Scranton before heading over to the Hilton for what they hope will be a victory party.

Mr. Smith's supporters, meanwhile, are planning their own victory party at Station Square tonight.

Mr. Smith has had a busy day already, starting with telephone interviews with eight radio stations -- two of them in Philadelphia -- before leaving his home on the family farm in Shelocta at 10 a.m. to vote at his precinct in Plum Creek.

From there, he traveled to a half dozen polling places in Pittsburgh, where he greeted voters and thanked volunteers.

"You can't really change people's votes on their way into the polling place," said James Conroy, Mr. Smith's campaign manager. "But there are media opportunities -- TV cameras and such -- and, to tell the truth, it's really just a chance to say thank you and to keep the troops fired up. It's a long day and a lot of these people haven't had a lot of sleep lately."

Mr. Conroy described his candidate as being "very positive" as Election Day entered its final hours.

"I don't think anyone can predict the race, and I think it's going to be determined by turnout," Mr. Conroy said. "And we feel very good about our turnout."

Staff writer Dan Majors contributed.

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