Toomey narrowly beats Sestak, GOP flips control of House delegation in historic vote
It was historic in any way you can imagine. Despite a furious last minute GOTV effort the weekend before Election Day, Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak narrowly lost to Pat Toomey and conceded around 12:30 a.m.
With 99.30 percent of Pennsylvania precincts reporting at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Toomey led 1,991,351 to 1,915,113, a margin of 51.0 to 49.0 percent. Sestak, known for closing strong, did narrow the gap in polling in those last few weeks, but fell just short of victory.
Sestak did have an early lead when following reporting from the Democratic bases of Philadelphia and Allegheny County. In the critical suburban Philadelphia counties, Sestak won Montgomery and Delaware counties, while Toomey took Bucks and Chester counties. Toomey narrowed the gap in votes steadily throughout the night as the rural parts of the state reported and took the lead around 11 p.m.
The bad news for Sestak is that Toomey’s margin of victory will probably be too large to trigger an automatic recount. Earlier this year, Gov. Ed Rendell signed a law that triggers a mandatory recount for an election decided by 0.5 percent.
In the governor’s race, state Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) defeated Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D). With 98.28 percent reporting, Corbet led 2,088,700 to 1,756,891 votes and 54.3 percent to 45.7 percent. Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley will be the Lieutenant governor. He will replace Joe Scarnati (R), the state Senate Pro Tem representing the 25th district, who assumed the position after Catherine Baker Knoll passed away in 2008.
The party switch from Democrat Ed Rendell continues a Keystone State tradition dating back to the 1950s of electing a governor from the opposite party every eight years.
In the U.S. House seats, Pennsylvania Republicans added to the national GOP’s new majority in Congress. In all, the Democrats lost five seats in Pennsylvania to exactly flip the balance of power in the commonwealth’s delegation. According to the nearly final tallies, Republicans will hold 12 seats to the Democrats’ seven. Currently, Democrats hold 12 seats to the GOP’s seven. Incumbent Democrats Paul Kanjorski, Chris Carney, Kathy Dahlkemper and Patrick Murphy all lost and Patrick Meehan (R) beat Bryan Lentz to fill Seskak’s House seat representing the 7th district.
The Murphy-Michael Fitzpatrick race that we discussed Monday may end up being a non-issue. At issue are about 8,000 absentee votes with Republicans alleging voter fraud and Democrats alleging voter suppression. However, with nearly all of the districts reporting, Fitzpatrick led by almost 27,000 votes.