Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toomey Keeps Senate Seat Gop Incumbent Records Slim Victory over Katie Mcginty

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toomey Keeps Senate Seat Gop Incumbent Records Slim Victory over Katie Mcginty

Article excerpt

BREINIGSVILLE, Pa. - Pat Toomey has portrayed himself as an independent voice in the U.S. Senate, and Tuesday his constituents returned him to Washington, helping to dash Democratic hopes of retaking the Senate majority.

Mr. Toomey was able to stave off Democratic challenger Katie McGinty in a tough race for re-election.

First elected to the Senate in 2010 as a firebrand conservative, Mr. Toomey has since moderated his positions and re-created his image as an independent senator who could reach bipartisan compromises on tough issues such as gun control.

"By making those choices, he was able to survive with a narrow win," said Scott Meinke, professor of political science at Bucknell University. "He was able to appeal to enough voters in the middle" despite Ms. McGinty's attempts to paint him as an ultraconservative who refused to denounce apparent presidential victor Donald Trump.

Mr. Toomey walked a tightrope during the campaign, refusing to either endorse Mr. Trump or condemn his candidacy, although he did denounce some of Mr. Trump's more inflammatory comments. A firm stance would have cost him votes either from Trump opponents or his supporters, and Mr. Toomey knew he needed help from both of those groups to win in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by four-to-three.

He didn't reveal his choice - Mr. Trump -- until 6:45 p.m. Tuesday after most voters had already cast their ballots.

As the first results rolled in Tuesday evening it looked like Ms. McGinty was headed to victory, but Toomey supporters like Tim Gaugler of Lehigh County wouldn't concede.

"I still think he's going to do it," Mr. Gaugler said even as results showed the senator losing ground. "Pat Toomey has a plan for our state. McGinty did a lot of bashing of Toomey but never really said what she planned on doing for us."

Nearby, Sheila Berg of Lehigh County said Mr. Toomey made important inroads during his first term, and she has high hopes he'll do more as a sophomore senator. …

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