Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D)

Pennsylvania

N/A

casey.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 2006, term expires 2018, 2nd term.

Born: April 13, 1960, Scranton, PA

Home: Scranton, PA

Education: Col. of the Holy Cross, B.A. 1982, Catholic U., J.D. 1988

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1988-96.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Terese Foppiano) , 4 children

Robert Casey Jr., a Democrat elected in 2006, is the senior senator from Pennsylvania. With the defeat of his colleague, Arlen Specter, in 2010, he is his state’s most powerful Democrat. Yet Casey got quite a scare from a well-funded but largely unknown Republican challenger in 2012.

Casey was born in the former coal town of Scranton, the oldest son in a large Irish-Catholic political family. He grew up in the Green Ridge neighborhood, the same area of town as the city’s other famous politician, Vice President Joe Biden, though Biden moved away two years before Casey’s birth. Casey’s father, Robert Casey, lost in three Democratic primaries before winning the first of his two terms as governor in 1986. He was a feisty, tradition-minded practitioner of New Deal-style politics, known best nationally as a steadfast opponent of abortion rights. In 1992, he was prevented from speaking at the Democratic National Convention, a decision related to his stance on abortion but also brought on by his skepticism about Bill Clinton as the right candidate.

Like his father, Robert Jr. graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He taught in an inner-city Philadelphia school for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and got his law degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He practiced law in Scranton, and then won election as state auditor general in 1996. He was reelected in 2000. Two years later, running as a cultural conservative with strong labor support, he lost a bitter and expensive primary for governor to former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. Casey’s tightly scripted campaign and negative ads tarnished his image, but he showed resilience by returning two years later to win the state treasurer’s office.

In 2005, national Democrats were looking for a strong challenger to Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a high-profile social conservative with a red-state following and a blue-state constituency. First in the House and then in the Senate, Santorum showed a knack for winning elections against tough odds. But the state’s political landscape had shifted considerably since his first election to the Senate in 1994. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York wanted Casey to run and quickly cleared the field to avoid a cash-draining primary. There was one problem: Casey’s opposition to abortion rights, which made him anathema to many cultural liberals in the Philadelphia area. But Schumer believed that Casey could make inroads into Santorum’s culturally conservative and “pro-life” base, and, as the Democratic alternative to Santorum, would be acceptable to “pro-choice” voters in suburban Philadelphia. The national party’s heavy-handed involvement rankled many Democrats, but resistance to Casey’s candidacy faded in the run-up to the election as he maintained a steady and sizable lead over Santorum in the polls.

Though Santorum was being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, his standing at home was tenuous. As early as April 2005, he trailed Casey by double digits in the polls. That summer, he released a book titled, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. The year before he stood for reelection was perhaps not the best timing for a frank discourse on some of the most divisive cultural issues of the day. Despite his stature as a member of the Senate Republican leadership, his avid support for the increasingly unpopular Bush administration was unhelpful in 2006. Casey hammered him for voting “98 percent of the time” with President George W. Bush and characterized Santorum as having close ties to the oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries. Democrats sought mileage from the issue of Santorum’s residence—an issue Santorum had used against his opponent in his first House campaign in 1990—and questioned whether his Virginia home disqualified him from casting a vote in Penn Hills, the Pittsburgh suburb where Santorum owned a home and was registered to vote. Democrats also criticized him for using Penn Hills school district taxpayer dollars to educate his children in a Pennsylvania-based online charter school though they spent much of their time in Virginia.

Santorum, who trailed in the polls from beginning to end, campaigned aggressively across the state while Casey limited his public appearances in the early stages of the campaign. The two candidates clashed over the war in Iraq, Social Security, and immigration. Casey’s socially conservative positions—at the time, he opposed gun control and same-sex marriage—helped cut into Santorum’s advantage outside the state’s metropolitan areas. Together the two candidates raised $43 million, and Santorum outspent Casey by more than $8 million, but it wasn’t enough. Casey won 59%-41%, to become the first Pennsylvania Democrat elected to a full Senate term since Joe Clark in 1962. He won by huge margins in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, 65%-35%, and in Philadelphia, 84%-16%, while holding his own in the Republican “T” that stretches from Pennsylvania Dutch country around Lancaster to the northern tier of sparsely populated counties along the New York border. Casey also swept the populous Philadelphia suburbs, winning 62% in Delaware and Montgomery counties, 59% in Bucks County, and 55% in Chester County.

In the Senate, Casey is a reliable supporter of his party’s agenda, though his devout Catholicism and his social conservatism occasionally cause him to break ranks. He has voted with President Barack Obama on most major issues. Casey sponsored a bill in March 2011 letting the federal government regulate the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “hydro fracking,” which environmentalists blame for contaminating groundwater in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. He angered some anti-abortion groups in April 2011 when he voted against denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood, saying the group provides many family planning services beyond abortion.

Two of Casey’s causes have been agriculture and expanding access to child care. After milk prices collapsed in 2009, he joined Specter in introducing legislation to change the amount farmers are paid for milk. Also that year, he introduced a bill to award grants to states that provide high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs. He also was an avid booster of funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, similar to a program his father instituted in Pennsylvania in 1992.

From his seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Casey was strongly critical of Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai, whom he blamed in 2009 for lacking urgency in rooting out corruption. He also pushed Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in November 2010 to improve customs enforcement at border crossings after news reports that caravans of Pakistani trucks carrying bomb-making materials were crossing into Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. He visited Pakistan in August 2011 and urged government officials to limit exports of chemicals used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have killed a number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Casey voted against South Korea, Panama, and Colombia trade bills that became law in October 2011. “Our workers are losing over and over again when you have these trade agreements,” Casey told The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown. Casey did get signed into law his Trade Adjustment Assistance amendment, which provided job training money for workers hurt by outsourcing. Casey also offered a bill in August 2012 to withhold federal funds to call centers that shift jobs overseas. In May 2012, Casey and Schumer introduced a bill to prevent U.S. business executives from giving up their citizenship to evade taxes, singling out Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who had renounced his citizenship before new taxes kicked in when the social networking company went public. The Schumer-Casey bill became controversial, with The Wall Street Journal condemning it and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist claiming similar legislation “existed in Germany in the 1930s.” Saverin, who moved to Singapore, claimed he still paid hundreds of millions in U.S. taxes.

On issues of strong local interest, Casey opposed the building of high-voltage transmission lines from the Appalachian mountain chain to the East Coast as “federal government arrogance” and in October 2007, threatened to block the reconfirmation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman. The Department of Energy had classified 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties as a “national interest electric transmission corridor.” Casey joined Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. in nominating Pennsylvania State football coach Joe Paterno for a Presidential Medal of Freedom in September 2011. But after child sex abuse allegations against a former defensive coordinator rocked the school two months later, Paterno was fired, and the Pennsylvania lawmakers withdrew the nomination.

Republicans hoped to unseat Casey in 2012, but they had a hard time recruiting a top-tier candidate to take on the well-funded incumbent. None of their primary candidates had significant name recognition. They included former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, businessman Steve Welch, lawyer Marc Scaringi, and former coal company executive Tom Smith. Welch got support from Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Pa., but it was not enough to stave off Smith, who spent almost $5 million of his own money and won the nomination with 39.5% of the vote.

A virtual unknown, Smith was given little chance to beat Casey. As a precaution, Casey kept his distance from President Barack Obama, and in late November 2011, failed to attend a speech Obama gave in Scranton. Casey’s office said the senator had to be in Washington for floor votes. A June 2012 Quinnipiac poll showed Casey with a comfortable lead, 51%-32%.

Smith went on the attack, calling Casey “Senator Zero” and claiming he had accomplished little in the Senate. And Casey’s supporters worried that he was underestimating Smith. “They’ve run a non-campaign up until now,” former Gov. Rendell, D-Pa. told The Times-Tribune of Scranton in October. Around that time, Smith personally invested $10 million into his campaign, flooding the airwaves with attack ads. Despite his tea party support, Smith characterized himself as a former “union coal miner with big dreams,” and in the campaign’s only debate, he portrayed Casey as tight with the Obama administration. To demonstrate his independence, Casey highlighted his opposition to the Obama-sponsored trade deals. Still, a Quinnipiac poll in October found Casey’s lead had narrowed to 48%-45%.

Casey won endorsements from most of the state’s major newspapers, including the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Smith outspent him, $21 million to $14 million, but Casey hung on to win, 54%-45%. He ran only slightly ahead of Obama, who won Pennsylvania with 52% of the vote.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 393
Washington, DC 20510-3805

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 393
Washington, DC 20510-3805

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 231-7540

(717) 231-7542

22 South Third Street Suite 6A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

200 North Third Street Suite 14A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

DISTRICT OFFICE

(215) 405-9660

(215) 405-9669

2000 Market Street Suite 610
Philadelphia, PA 19103

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

2000 Market Street Suite 610
Philadelphia, PA 19103

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

310 Grant Street Suite 2415
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

DISTRICT OFFICE

(412) 803-7370

(412) 803-7379

310 Grant Street Suite 2415
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

417 Lackawanna Avenue Suite 303
Scranton, PA 18503

DISTRICT OFFICE

(570) 941-0930

(570) 941-0937

417 Lackawanna Avenue Suite 303
Scranton, PA 18503

DISTRICT OFFICE

(814) 874-5080

(814) 874-5084

17 South Park Row Suite B-150
Erie, PA 16501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

17 South Park Row Suite B-150
Erie, PA 16501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 782-9470

(610) 782-9474

840 Hamilton Street Suite 301
Allentown, PA 18101

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

840 Hamilton Street Suite 301
Allentown, PA 18101

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-6324

(202) 228-0604

817 East Bishop Street Suite C
Bellefonte, PA 16823

DISTRICT OFFICE

(814) 357-0314

(814) 357-0318

817 East Bishop Street Suite C
Bellefonte, PA 16823

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Sara Mabry
Senior Policy Advisor

Doug Hartman
Legislative Correspondent

Acquisitions

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Andrew Usyk
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Liz Hermsen
Senior Policy Advisor

Claire Borzner
Legislative Correspondent

Appropriations

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Andrew Usyk
Legislative Assistant

Arts

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Andrew Usyk
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Andrew Usyk
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Crime

Doug Hartman
Legislative Correspondent

Disability

Michelle Haimowitz
Legislative Correspondent

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Disaster

Christina Brown
Legislative Aide

Economics

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Kichelle Webster
Legislative Correspondent

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Education

Lauren Burdette
Education Fellow

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Liz Hermsen
Senior Policy Advisor

Claire Borzner
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

Liz Hermsen
Senior Policy Advisor

Claire Borzner
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Sara Mabry
Senior Policy Advisor

Doug Hartman
Legislative Correspondent

Finance

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Andrew Usyk
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Caitlin Frazer
Legislative Assistant

Christina Brown
Legislative Aide

Govt Ops

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Health

Michelle Haimowitz
Legislative Correspondent

Sara Mabry
Senior Policy Advisor

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Doug Hartman
Legislative Correspondent

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Homeland Security

Caitlin Frazer
Legislative Assistant

Christina Brown
Legislative Aide

Human Rights

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Caitlin Frazer
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Jared Solomon
Legislative Assistant

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Labor

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Land Use

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Medicare

Michelle Haimowitz
Legislative Correspondent

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Military

Caitlin Frazer
Legislative Assistant

Christina Brown
Legislative Aide

Public Works

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Science

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Seniors

Michelle Haimowitz
Legislative Correspondent

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Small Business

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Social Security

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Tax

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Technology

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Telecommunications

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Trade

Livia Shmavonian
Legislative Assistant

Virginia Lenahan
Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Jack Groarke
Deputy State Director

Kichelle Webster
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Welfare

Michelle Haimowitz
Legislative Correspondent

Gillian Mueller
Senior Policy Advisor

Ben Schwartz
Legislative Aide

Women

Sara Mabry
Senior Policy Advisor

Doug Hartman
Legislative Correspondent

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Robert Casey Jr.
Votes: 3,021,364
Percent: 53.69%
Tom Smith
Votes: 2,509,132
Percent: 44.59%
2012 PRIMARY
Robert Casey Jr.
Votes: 565,488
Percent: 80.88%
Joseph Vodvarka
Votes: 133,683
Percent: 19.12%
2006 GENERAL
Robert Casey Jr.
Votes: 2,392,984
Percent: 59.0%
Rick Santorum
Votes: 1,684,778
Percent: 41.0%
2006 PRIMARY
Robert Casey Jr.
Votes: 629,271
Percent: 85.0%
Chuck Pennacchio
Votes: 66,364
Percent: 9.0%
Alan Sandals
Votes: 48,113
Percent: 6.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2006 (59%)

* Export counts will reset after 30 days. Please contact your Dedicated Advisor if you have reached your limit.

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×