Sestak, Toomey Look For Edge In Southeast Pa.
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) – Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak dueled for support Monday in the heavily populated swing counties around Philadelphia, seeking an edge as their hotly contested race for U.S. Senate heads into the final full week.
Toomey said he plans no last-minute surprises in strategy as both candidates launch a sprint to the finish, appearing at multiple events daily around the state aimed at building voter excitement and boosting turnout.
Recent polls have shown a tight race.
“It’s going to be competitive down to the end,’’ Toomey told reporters after greeting breakfast patrons at Penn’s Table restaurant in West Chester. “We’re just gonna keep working hard and we’re gonna win the race.’’
The counties that ring Philadelphia are home to many independent voters who have played a decisive role in elections in Pennsylvania, a swing state.
“Independents are very important in this race,’’ Toomey said. “Independents understand very well that Washington is on the wrong track. They’re breaking our way and I think that’s likely to continue.’’
Although Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 1.2 million in Pennsylvania, independent voters, especially those in the socalled collar counties around Philadelphia, have played a pivotal role in elections.
This year, some independent voters have been frustrated with the sour economy and Democratic initiatives, even in Pennsylvania, where President Barack Obama won by double digits two years ago.
Sestak hopes to persuade voters who gave Democrats big victories in 2006 and 2008 in the state to stay with the party to fix an economy battered by Republican excesses in past years.
With independents so critical to victory, each Senate candidate is casting the other as a partisan extremist vastly out-of-step with voters on economic issues.
Sestak has criticized Toomey for his Wall Street background and says he lines up behind big corporations and policies that send U.S. jobs overseas. Toomey says Sestak is too liberal for the state and does not understand economic issues because he does not have a strong enough business background.
The two men are vying to replace five-term Sen. Arlen Specter, whom Sestak beat in the Democratic primary.
Sestak is a second-term U.S. House member from the Philadelphia suburbs and a former Navy admiral.
Toomey is a former businessman and congressman from the Allentown area who more recently led a Washington based free-market advocacy group.