Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. of Scranton, Lackawanna County, faces a well-funded challenge from Republican Tom Smith of Shelocta, Armstrong County, in the race for one of Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senate seats.
After a relatively slow start, the race has gained momentum in recent weeks, with Smith outspending Casey by 2 1/2 times to air frequent television commercials, according to the Allentown Morning Call. Casey, in turn, has hit back in messages criticizing his opponent's tax policies, saying they would benefit only the wealthy.
Smith also made news in a recent appearance before the Pennsylvania Press Club with remarks about abortion in which he likened a pregnancy resulting from rape to that of a pregnancy in which a child is born out of wedlock.
Prior to entering the Senate, Casey served two terms as the state's auditor general from 1996 to 2004. Barred from seeking a third term as auditor general, Casey ran and won the state treasurer seat in 2004.
In 2002, he also sought to follow his late father into the governor's seat but lost in the primary to former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, who would go on to win the seat. His anti-abortion stance, opposition to gun control and views on other social issues at times have put him at odds with more liberal members of his own party.
Casey has supported civil unions for gay couples, as well as legislation repealing the "The Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gay military personnel and legislation permitting adoption by same-sex couples. He also opposes school vouchers, privatizing Social Security, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and drilling for oil in the Arctic.
Smith, is a multimillionaire native of Armstrong County. He ran his family's farm in Elderton and worked in a local mine after high school, then later bought and operated a mine until 2010.
Smith began his political career as a Democrat, running and winning a seat on the Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors. In 2010, however, the longtime conservative changed parties and helped to found a Tea Party group in Indiana and Armstrong counties.
He favors simplifying the tax code and instituting a flat tax, cutting federal spending and reducing federal regulation of business and industry and spending on Medicare and Medicaid. He also has called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, favors drilling for oil in the Arctic and opposes abortion and federal restrictions on Marcellus shale gas drilling.
For information on the candidates' education, work experience and previous political experience, click on the links below.