Pat Toomey wins re-election to Senate
Pat Toomey wins re-election to Senate, helps GOP retain control
The Associated Press called the nationally watched Pennsylvania race at 1:14 a.m. based on unofficial state results. Toomey had 48.8 percent and McGinty, a former environmental official and ex-chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, had 47.3 percent.
The close tallies were the conclusion of a contentious race that shattered a national record for spending, with outside groups pouring more than $160 million into the contest.
National Democrats were keeping a close eye on the race heading into Tuesday, expecting it to be part of a set of seats that could give Democrats a majority in the Senate. The ruling party will control which bills get a vote and determine whether the vacant Supreme Court seat is filled.
But by 11 p.m., that battle was lost even with Pennsylvania still up in the air. Democrats had picked up one Senate seat in Illinois, but Republicans held on others in Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Indiana, ending the Democrats’ chances of flipping the Senate.
Toomey, who arrived at the hotel as polls closed, remained sequestered in a separate room out of sight of supporters and media.
By 12:30 a.m., several state lawmakers addressed the room, appearing to introduce Toomey for a victory speech. But after about 10 minutes, they retreated, saying the race was still close and prompting loud calls of “Concede, Katie” from several in the crowd.
Toomey finally took the stage shortly after 1:30 a.m. before a crowd that had significantly dwindled during the lengthy wait. The senator announced that he had received a call from McGinty minutes earlier conceding the race, and he congratulated her on running a “spirited” campaign.
However, Toomey was also sharply critical of some of the ads financed by McGinty and her allies during the campaign calling some “outright false.”
“The voters were smart enough to figure it out,” he said.
After thanking his family and campaign staff, Toomey pledged to continue the agenda from his first term in office – cutting taxes, dismantling Obamacare and making the country safer for law enforcement.
“I will do it in a way that respects the opinions of people who disagree with me,” Toomey said.
In a Philadelphia ballroom that had been packed with enthusiastic supporters, volunteers and Democratic leaders three hours earlier, McGinty delivered a concession speech to a small crowd of die-hard supporters. Some embraced, a few wept, but most spoke softly in small groups over the booming audio of MSNBC’s election news cast.
McGinty tempered disappointment saying that she would continue to fight for the workers and families she courted in her campaign.
“We’re not going to stop fighting to make this country a place where everyone, regardless of your gender, your race, your zip code, your orientation – where everyone has the same chance to pursue their dreams,” McGinty said. “We’re richer when everyone is lifted up, and we’re poorer if even a single person is held back.”
Turning to the results of the national election, McGinty said “The future is in our hands to make sure we safeguard what is and continues to be the greatest experiment self determination, self governance, pluralism and diversity that the world has ever seen.”
“Our country and all of the countries in the world depend on America getting democracy right,” she said.
Toomey and McGinty spent much of the general election attacking each other’s ethics and judgment.
Those personal attacks were amplified by outside groups, which spent more than $115 million on television ads and other support. Democratic groups outspent those supporting Toomey and opposing McGinty by at least $11 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
By late October, the influx of campaign cash surpassed a $112 million record set in 2014 for the most expensive U.S. Senate battle. The $160 million spent between candidates and outside groups easily exceeded the $57 million spent in 2010 when Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak.
McGinty and Toomey spent a combined $41 million as of Oct. 19, and that total will rise once final spending reports are filed.
The outpouring of spending reflected a race that was expected to be much more challenging for Toomey, a 54-year-old former congressman who later led the D.C.-based anti-tax group Club for Growth, than his 2010 contest because of the Democrat-favoring turnout figures typically posted in a presidential year.
Toomey, the second U.S. senator ever from the Lehigh Valley, sought to blunt that historic pattern by emphasizing instances when he had reached across the aisle. He highlighted his efforts with Casey on confirming federal judges to courts in Pennsylvania, and ran ads quoting Democrats — including President Barack Obama and former Gov. Ed Rendell — praising his work.
Toomey’s best-known efforts across the aisle — his work with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin on an unsuccessful gun background check bill — had mixed ramifications as the election unfolded.
The National Rifle Association, which endorsed Toomey in 2010, gave him a “C” rating this year. But he also gained the endorsement from two gun-control advocacy groups, led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose organization spent money on ads touting Toomey’s efforts.
But as they prepared for the race, neither Toomey nor his Democratic opposition foresaw the way in which the Republican presidential nominee would loom over the Senate race.
Starting with her victory remarks on primary night, McGinty, 53, of Chester County, has sought to tie Toomey to the polarizing GOP figure at the top of the ticket, repeatedly calling on Toomey to answer for Trump’s divisive remarks and imploring him to denounce the divisive nominee.
Toomey walked a tightrope when it came to Trump, declining to appear with the nominee on the campaign trail and distancing himself from Trump’s most charged remarks — but leaving open the possibility of voting for Trump. He remained on the fence even as Pennsylvania’s presidential race was within a few percentage points late in the contest.
After casting his ballot Tuesday, Toomey told reporters waiting outside his polling spot that he voted for Trump.
“In the end, I decided we’ve just got to change the course we’re on,” Toomey said, describing the decision as a “tough call” that he struggled with until the final days of the race.
Outside his polling place in Bethlehem, Republican Tom Horn, 58, said Tuesday that he voted for Toomey, though he would have liked to see the incumbent on board with the top of the ticket.
“He should have come out earlier on that, but I understand what he’s doing,” Horn said. “He wants to get as many votes as he can. I sympathize with him.”
While Toomey avoided Trump and sought to cast his skepticism as a signal of his independence, McGinty aligned closely with Clinton. She was heavily recruited by national Democrats, and defeated Sestak in the primary with millions in support from Senate Democrats and from Emily’s List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights.
Toomey and McGinty disagreed on most issues, presenting a stark contrast to voters. McGinty’s messaging has focused on economic policies, pledging to aid middle-class families by working to lower college costs and to craft a national paid leave program. Toomey’s camp argued that her policies would burden those families with larger tax bills.
They also quarreled over security issues, with Toomey blasting McGinty’s position on the Iran nuclear deal and on sanctuary cities.
By the time they faced off on the debate stage in October, their disputes were largely personal.
Toomey’s campaign blasted McGinty over her career path from the state Department of Environmental Protection to positions on the corporate boards of environmental firms to which she previously had awarded taxpayer-funded grants.
McGinty and her surrogates sought to raise questions about the financial practices at a bank that Toomey co-founded.
NOTE: Unofficial results with 97 percent of precincts reporting.