By KIMBERLY HEFLING
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; 8:19 AM
PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Rick Santorum, a strong voice for conservatives who rose to be the No. 3 Senate Republican, was routed Tuesday by Bob Casey, the anti-abortion, anti-gun control son of a popular Pennsylvania governor.
Santorum, 48, had long defied those who said he was too conservative for the Democratic-leaning state. But the two-term senator and was unable to overtake Casey, the 46-year-old state treasurer, who accused Santorum of pursuing a rigid ideology that put him out of step with most Pennsylvanians.
At his election headquarters in his hometown of Scranton, Casey thanked Santorum for what he said was a gracious phone call.
"He talked about one thing, he talked about the future, and I appreciate that because American politics more than ever ... has to be as much about healing as it is about debates on issues," Casey said, his wife and four daughters at his side.
Santorum said Casey is "a fine man and I know he'll do a fine job for Pennsylvania."
In Pennsylvania's race for governor, Democrat Ed Rendell, 62, captured a second term, his fundraising prowess proving too much for Republican challenger Lynn Swann, the former Steelers star.
Swann, 48, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and political novice who wanted to be Pennsylvania's first black governor, was a hit with sports fans but his tax-cutting message failed to catch on with voters.
Casey, a former two-term state auditor and the son of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, became the first Democrat from Pennsylvania elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate since 1962.
Casey was defeated by Rendell in the 2002 gubernatorial primary and national Democratic leaders recruited him as a Senate candidate, hoping his opposition to abortion and gun control would cut into Santorum's conservative base. He sought to keep focus on Santorum's record of support for President Bush.
Santorum, a leading voice against abortion and same sex-marriage, tried to create some distance from Bush, highlighting differences on issues such as immigration. But he otherwise stood firmly by the president, stating during a debate on NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think he's been a terrific president. Absolutely."
Throughout the campaign, Democrats attacked Santorum for statements in his 2005 book "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Book," a political counterpoint to a book by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Some of his comments were seen as critical of families where both parents work outside the home.
Santorum also had to deal with fallout over his use of Pennsylvania tax dollars to help pay for his children's cyberschool education while living in a Virginia suburb.