An enthusiastic crowd of northeastern Pennsylvania Democrats are celebrating Democrat Bob Casey's win over GOP challenger Tom Smith, a conservative Armstrong County farmer who waged an aggressive self-funded campaign.
Polls had narrowed through early fall as Mr. Smith brought his campaign to televisions, radios and computer screens statewide. The effort was no match for the Democratic faithful who came out to ensure a second term for Mr. Casey, a mild-mannered Scranton Democrat who previously served as state treasurer and auditor general.
The win was great news to the enthusiastic crowd of northeast Pennsylvanians who filled a ballroom at the Hilton Hotel & Convention Center for the senator's victory party.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Casey said he wasn't troubled by the closeness of the race – far different from his 17-point win over incumbent Rick Santorum six years ago. He said he knew that it would be a competitive race if Mr. Smith invested heavily in it financially.
Including nearly $17 million his own money, Mr. Smith spent about $20 million on the race, twice as much as Mr. Casey, whose campaign was heavily funded by lawyers and lobbyists.
Spring polls had Mr. Casey leading by as much as 19 points but that gap closed as Republicans took to the airways with a steady stream of attack ads while Democrats stayed quiet but for one commercial that hammered on Mr. Smith's conservative tea party roots.
Jim Burn, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said he never worried that Mr. Casey would lose.
"We have worked hard here in Pennsylvania" for all Democratic candidates this cycle. He said the results verify that people appreciate the difficult decisions the president and Sen. Casey have made to move the country out of a recession."