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Pat Toomey wins re-election to Senate, topping Katie McGinty

Written by The Associated Press | Nov 9, 2016 1:35 AM
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Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. speaks to the media after voting at the Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Old Zionsville, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(Undated) -- Republican Pat Toomey has won re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, beating Democrat Katie McGinty in a down-to-the-wire race that was a key stepping stone in Republicans' drive to maintain control of the Senate.

Toomey had been one of the most vulnerable Republican senators running for re-election. The race smashed U.S. Senate campaign finance records, with spending on it passing $160 million since the beginning of last year.

A fiscal hawk, he compiled one of Congress' most conservative voting records.

Toomey, 54, leaned heavily on his willingness to buck the Republican Party, including on the hot-button issue of gun control. He fought off Democrats' efforts to tie him to GOP nominee Donald Trump, and positioned himself as the candidate more likely to seek compromise in a polarized Washington. McGinty, he had maintained, was untrustworthy and would be a "rubber stamp" for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Toomey also campaigned heavily on security issues, and pointed to his near-universal endorsement by police unions.

McGinty, who has never held an elected public office, was trying to become Pennsylvania's first female senator.

Recruited to run by top Washington Democrats, McGinty had lacked name recognition, but Democrats had hoped a massive wave of spending from party allies, including public-sector unions and abortion rights groups, and Democrats' 4-to-3 registration advantage over Republicans could deliver victory. McGinty, a former environmental adviser to Bill Clinton's White House, allied herself with Hillary Clinton and piggybacked on the heavy schedule of campaign visits by her and other top Democrats.

But Toomey and his allies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the network steered by conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, attacked McGinty as a tax-hiking Clinton clone and labeled her "Shady Katie." In particular, they accused her of parlaying grants from her time as Pennsylvania's environmental protection secretary into lucrative board positions at energy companies she had helped.

McGinty and her allies, meanwhile, had attacked Toomey as a Wall Street shill, citing his battle against tougher banking regulations while he profited from a retail bank he had helped start in Allentown and his work for investment banks early in his career.

McGinty also repeatedly attacked Toomey for refusing to disavow Trump. Toomey had long been critical of some of Trump's statements and positions during the campaign, but he had refused to entirely reject Trump, as he had Clinton.

In turn, Toomey cited his distance from Trump as a sign of his independence. McGinty, he maintained, could not be trusted to stand up to Clinton.

McGinty also leaned heavily on her family background as the ninth of 10 children of a Philadelphia police officer and diner waitress. At one point, she was forced to explain her campaign trail statements that she was the first in her big family to go to college, even though an older brother graduated from college years before her.

Toomey used that gaffe as a key argument to undermine McGinty's trustworthiness.

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