Smith Wins Senate Race in a Rout

Coal industry veteran Tom Smith scored a relatively easy win Tuesday, with Sam Rohrer in a distant second and Steve Welch in third. His victory sets up a general election matchup with Sen. Bob Casey and embarrasses the Pa. Republican Party – and Gov. Tom Corbett – who backed Welch. Smith vastly outspent his opponents, almost 3 times all of them combined.

“I am grateful to my family, my supporters, countless volunteers and the Republican voters of Pennsylvania,” said Smith.  “I also extend my respect and gratitude to my primary opponents – each of whom ran a spirited campaign. I know that each of them will continue to be strong advocates for the principles of limited government, lower taxes and economic freedom.”

“This election will be about Senator Casey’s record.  In his six years in the Senate, Casey has been President Obama’s most trusted ally in massively expanding government, ballooning the debt, and eroding our freedoms.  A half-million unemployed Pennsylvanians deserve a Senator with the real world private sector experience to get our economy back on track.”

Smith won 39.5 percent, with 296,878 votes. Sam Rohrer came in second, with 22.3 percent, 167,732 votes. Steve Welch wasn’t too far behind, gaining 20.8 percent, 156,573 votes. David Christian received only 10.5 percent of the vote, or 79,001 votes. Marc Scaringi rounded out the field with 6.9 percent, 51,477 votes.

Casey cruised over primary challenger Joe Vodvarka of Allegheny County, who received a notable 132,570 votes – 19.2 percent – against the incumbent Senator.

Smith showed a strong performance across the state, winning 58 of 67 Pa. counties. He even scored sizable wins in his opponents’ backyards. He took Montgomery County and the City of Philadelphia by double digits. Of the 9 counties he lost, 4 were home to his opponents; 4 others went to Rohrer, and 1 went to Welch.

The Post-Gazette covered Welch’s concession speech, which sounded a conciliatory note: “The differences in this race, I believe, were not great. We very much shared the same views. There were certainly differences in style and tone, but Tom is going to carry the torch here in Pennsylvania.”

Sam Rohrer spoke of his lessons learned and took a jab at Smith’s financial dominance: “One thing we’ve learned  from this is that the machine is not all powerful. We also learned, unfortunately, that money does speak.”

In the end, the loyalty of grassroots supporters for Rohrer and institutional advantages of the endorsement for Welch couldn’t overcome Smith’s dominance of the TV airwaves.

Smith loaned an gave his campaign more than $5 million and raised hundreds of thousands more. Welch loans his own campaign $1 million and raised another quarter million. Rohrer raised about a quarter million in total.

The Republican now faces an uphill battle against a Senator with an edge in money and name ID. Casey reported $5.2 million on hand at the beginning of April.

While the PAGOP issued a boilerplate congratulatory release on all four statewide Republican primary winners, including Smith, Sen. Pat Toomey issued an immediate endorsement.

“I’d like to congratulate Tom Smith on a hard-fought victory and endorse his candidacy,” Toomey said. “Tom is a self-made man from humble origins who understand the value of hard work. His understanding of job creation and his vast private sector experience is exactly what our government needs right now. I look forward to supporting his candidacy in the coming months.”

Democrats were ready for him; as the results emerged party Chairman Jim Burns issued a statement on the race and Corbett’s endorsement:

“The Tea Party has spoken: Tom Smith, the founder of a Tea Party group, wins.  With a historically low vote total, Pennsylvania Republicans nominated a candidate so far outside the mainstream the Pennsylvania Republican Party refused to back him. Despite depleting his $5 million personal loan, Smith limped out of a Republican primary field that independent observers labeled as ‘thin on formidable candidates’ and a ‘bad litter’. Smith’s victory shows the weakness and unpopularity of Tom Corbett and the Republican brand in Pennsylvania.”

Republicans were ready, too. Said National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Jesmer:

“We congratulate Tom Smith on winning the Pennsylvania Republican Senate Primary.  The difference in this race couldn’t be more clear.   Tom is a proven job creator who believes we need less government spending and lower taxes, while Bob Casey has voted in lockstep with Barack Obama and his agenda of higher taxes and increased government regulation.  It’s time to restore fiscal sanity and pro-jobs policies in Washington D.C. and we can do that with Tom Smith as the next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.”

21 Responses

  1. The primary is over. Time to move on to November.

    The early remarks from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party expose their own grave concerns.

    709,253 people voted in the Democrats Attorney General race, their race of interest.

    Using the Democratic attorney general race as a barometer (709,253 total votes) 14% did not vote “for” Obama and 21% did not vote “for” Casey..

    These three races; Kane’s victory , combined with the wavering of support for Obama and Casey indicate Pennsylvania Democrats are more concerned about policy than party and are rejecting the Obama/Casey progressive agenda.

    On the Republican side,.low turnout almost always favors the endorsed candidate. (Welch) Most reports indicted that Mr. Rohrer had the largest grassroots network and certainly had the most name recognition. With all those factors Tom Smith’s core message resonated with Pennsylvania republicans.

    Pennsylvanians are sending a very clear message that they are tired of party politics and are interested in kitchen table issues.

  2. Instead of sanctimonious twaddle, I would really like to know what the Rohrer plan was to fund infastructure projects or say, reduce the trade deficit or may be even nuclear containment of Iran. The Rohrer campaign should thank Tom Smith for saving Sam from losing to Bob Casey, Jr. 70 to 30 per cent.

  3. Lois,

    Respectfully, you are wrong. Rafferty wasn’t pushed out by Asher so he can continue to be the “man from SE PA.” Rafferty was pushed out when the GOP Leadership found out he is gay. They didn’t want a gay Republican running for AG. Everyone around SE PA knows the score on that one, you just need to ask around.

    Castor was blocked because of the vendetta that Gleason & Asher have against him. That’s right, the same Gleason that Castor thought was trying to help him in his Commissioner’s race would love nothing more than to see him fade into obscurity.

    The PA GOP Committee needs to wake up and get rid of idiots like Gleason, Asher, and Corbett. They County GOP Committees need to be overhauled, starting with Montgomery County. Our brand in this state is in SERIOUS trouble.

  4. I can only speak for myself but I will not fall in line and vote for Tom Smith. If I believed in Smith I would have voted for him in the first place. I am through with voting for someone because they are the lesser of two evils, ultimately they are both still evils. I will vote for the person who shares my principles and values and if there is not someone on the ballot that matches those then I will write in someone who does. Sorry I will not be a blind sheep like many voters are.

  5. Pennsylvania Republican’s did nothing more than elect a blue dog Democrat to represent them. Tom Smith is a blue dog Democrat-plain and simple. Smith couldn’t challenge Casey in the Democrat Primary(blue dogs are a dying breed) and since the Republican party is hell-bent on entertaining and electing liberal Republicans-Smith saw his opportunity and took it. Tom Smith IS Bob Casey. Tom Smith can say whatever he likes-he has no record to back up his claims of ‘what he will do’. The Republican leadership has been heard whispering that Bob Casey hasn’t made any enemies ergo most are ‘OK’ with Casey as Senator. The fix is in and this Republican isn’t going to work or vote for Tom Smith-I don’t care which Democrat-Smith or Casey-wins.

  6. @Sam the bitter man
    Rohrer may not be a bad guy, but for him to cry about losing to a well-funded campaign is a ridiculous. His defeat at the hands of Corbett in the Governor’s race should have taught him that money matters. He is a local level, career politician that does not have the resources to compete in a statewide election, be it primary or general. Congratulations Tom Smith and on to the General Election, where you will defeat Casey.

  7. Asher jammed Welsh down everyone’s throats to block Sen. John Rafferty from running for AG. The reason? Welsh had no chance to actually become Senator (nor does Smith) and Rafferty did have a chance of becoming AG. Asher could never let anyone from SE PA actually move up because Asher has to be “The Man” from SE PA. Hence he only backs losers from the SE: Matthews, Ellis, Welsh and never back winners: Marino, Castor, Rafferty. This time, Asher got Corbett into the act and made the guv look foolish. Same old stuff. Now that Asher has Romney, he no longer needs Corbett. Once he had Corbett, he no longer needed Perzel, Brightbill, Jublier, Feese, Santorum, Matthews, Davis, Ellis. The game never changes.

  8. Tom Smith’s money with the network of Rohrer-Christian-Scaringi principled grassroots will match Bob Casey’s money and union organization.

    The difference: Ideas that grow the economy, create jobs and taxes for social welfare programs, and build businesses and consistent centering on Constitutional Limited Government, Economic Freedom and Individual Responsibility Casey cannot compete in the contest of ideas with his quasi-socialist, bankrupting Big Government ideas.

  9. Tom Smith’s Democratic registration will not hurt him in the General Election. If anything, it will resonate with those who see Casey-Obama’s no growth policies as counterproductive and see Tom Smith as someone they can identify. Tom Smith is the authentic, real world Constitutional Limited Government job creator who meets a payroll and pays taxes against a Tax Taking Career Politician.

    Tom Smith wins….

  10. The PAGOP, Asher, Gleason, and Corbett all think we are a bunch of baaaing sheep. Guess we proved differently this time.

  11. Sam Rohrer’s team of principled grassroots activists and was most impressive. Sam can articulate core American Constitutional Values in ways that are beyond Bob Casey’s ability. We hope and expect Sam and his team will, enthusiastically, join Team Tom Smith.

    Likewise, Steve Welch is a real deal, real world entrepreneurial hi tech venture capitalist who really knows how to create productive jobs and viable businesses. Steve fell in with a bad crowd who saw a rich man who wanted political office; Steve Welch’s political consultants “won” and got paid. Steve Welch is the kind of person who is a credit to the party.

    My expectation is that Sam Rohrer will articulate a Values message of individual Liberty and Constitutional Limited Government as the means to protect Liberty and that Steve will articulate a plan of job creation.

    Bob Casey can do neither and will rely on Union Leaders and their muscular ground organization.

  12. Just goes to show that a pile of money and no fear of spewing outright lies can/did buy an election. Sorry to say, but we are stuck with Bob Casey for another 6 years. Or was that the plan all along? Prop up a lifelong liberal Democrat as Casey’s competition to ensure his re-election. Casey will destroy this bumbling idiot in the general election.

  13. This is an opportunity for the grassroots to test its muscle and stop relying on big money to get the vote out. All politics is local! It’s NOT just a slogan!

  14. The endorsement was an arm twist by the state party to appease the SE voting poll and SE donors, where the majority of their contributions come from. Frankly, insiders don’t think we’ve got a shot at winning this cycle so the party doesn’t really care and isn’t willing to throw money at this cycle. Why? They’ve already concluded we’ve lost. I’ve heard one story where the party wanted Roher to win so he’d loose in November and fizzle out of influence. There’s a belief that the party and the governors office are directly tied to each other. I think the party follows the governor b/c they don’t know what else to do. Smith does follow one qualifier for PAGOP, self financing. But if you liked the Toomey campaign expect more of the same with this cycle and get ready to loose this state again bc the party has gone out of their way to alienate right winners, and those that dog pledge to the dogma of the PAGOP.

  15. Both Dave Christian and Marc Scaringi are to be congratulated for attracting as many votes as they did with very modest amounts of money and limited organization. It is a tribute to them and to their ideas and character and hard work.

    I hope the Republican State Committee gets the message

  16. The Republican State Committee should be taking a long look in the mirror today. It maybe time to replace the leadership. Those state committee members that close their eyes and just listen to Mr. Gleason (who has proven he knows how to lose) need to do what they were elected to do….find the best candidate. We in Pennsylvania need to work hard to defeat Barack Obama and right now we need better than the sad poorly educated group controlling the party in Harrisburg.

  17. Considering the absurd push by the Rep party and Corbett in supporting Welch it is good to see some justice served up. Tom Smith it is, OK, no problem, now it is time for Casey to go down.

    And what about that other guy getting a big chunk of Caseys’ vote with no campaign. Looks like not all tall cotton for Bob II.

  18. The Independence Hall Tea Party PAC congratulates its endorsed US Senate candidate, Tom Smith, on his victory!

    There has never been a more deserving
    nominee.

    This Mr. Smith is going to Washington.

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