With Republican Sen. Pat Toomey retaining his seat in the 2016 election, this November will be the last time Pennsylvania residents can vote for a U.S. Senator for another four years.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is looking to keep his seat away from three challengers. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, current representative of the 11th Congressional District, forewent seeking another term in Congress and finding himself in a new district with redistricting, and instead opted to run against Casey for Senate.
He is joined with other challengers, Green Party candidate Neal Gale and Libertarian candidate Dale Kerns.
Here are the candidates for the U.S. Senate:
Political Party: Republican
Education: Bloomsburg State (now Bloomsburg University)
Occupation: Member of Congress
Endorsements: FOP lodges across Pennsylvania (1, 35, 91 and 18), National Federation of Independent Business, National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, PA State Troopers Association and National Electrical Contractors Association
What do you think of the partisanship in the Senate and across the country, and how would you address it?
“I have always worked across party lines to find this consensus for the benefit of the people I represent, both as mayor in a city where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, and as member of Congress, where I am a member of the Bipartisan Working Group. The Bipartisan Working Group contains 27 Democrat and Republican members who meet every Tuesday in Washington to find solutions to issues stalled by partisanship.
“I’ve also joined up with Democrat state Sen. John Yudichak here in Pennsylvania to bring an after-school program called ‘Schools and Homes in Education’ (SHINE) to Luzerne County.
“SHINE is a successful, nationally-recognized after-school program geared toward grades K-8 and focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum. SHINE links schools and homes in order to help children build stronger academic and social foundations.
“According to a recent study, 92 percent of SHINE students had exceptionally good or satisfactory school attendance, and the number of students who said they would like to study math or science increased by 14 percent.
“In the Senate, I will always work for compromise, and I will never let a party label get in the way of finding solutions.”
Political Party: Democrat
Education: Bachelor’s from Holy Cross; Juris Doctor from Catholic University
Endorsements: United Mine Workers of America, Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Alliance of Retired Americans and Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers
What do you think of the partisanship in the Senate and across the country, and how would you address it? “My number one priority is delivering results for workers, seniors and middle-class families, and I’ll work with anyone to do that. My record shows that I’ve always found a way to work across the aisle to get things done. I worked with Sen. Burr to pass the landmark ABLE Act to help American with disabilities live fuller lives. I worked with Sen. Blunt to pass legislation to invest in our infrastructure and repair hundreds of structurally deficient roads and bridges in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, I worked with Sen. Toomey to pass a bill to honor our fallen heroes by ensuring that the children of fall first responders can receive the maximum Pell Grant allowed under law. I’ve also worked with Sen. Toomey in a bipartisan way to recommend and have confirmed 18 individuals to the federal bench. I’ll put my record of delivering bipartisan results up against anyone’s.”
Residence: Abington Township, Montgomery County
Education: Architecture at Drexel University
Occupation: Program manager for low-income energy affordability program
What do you think of the partisanship in the Senate and across the country, and how would you address it? “I believe that the partisanship we now see is the outcome of the two-party duopoly, honing its technique for maintaining power. The major parties have always used hot-button talking points to divide voters. That room-splitting approach has now evolved to where it’s acceptable to maintain absolute obstinance on an issue without hearing other opinion(s) or compromising.
“I have taken another view—we are one family, with many voices. And after speaking with many people throughout Pennsylvania, I recognize some core ideals we all share; our children come first; decency and honesty are singularly important; economic and social justice have to be a central features of our society; maintaining the sustainability of our communities is critical.
“We may not agree on how we arrive at these ideals, but in my conversations, I found that we are still willing to talk, and in most cases, to listen to reasoned counter thoughts.
“As U.S. senator, I would continue that approach and build coalitions in Congress among those of us who are not there simply to get re-elected, playing the hot button game of politics. The nature of our democracy calls for full participation and ultimately, compromise. That’s the only long-term answer.”
Political Party: Libertarian
Residence: Ridley, Delaware County
Education: Widener University
Occupation: Project manager for electrical contractor
Endorsements: Gary Johnson, Bobby Lawrence, Jennifer Moore, Bruno Novak and Michael Oehling
What do you think of the partisanship in the Senate and across the country, and how would you address it? “I think it’s absolutely disgraceful how politics in Washington have become like a team sport. The Republicans and Democrats bicker back-and-forth, nonstop, never caring about the issues that affect our nation. My solution is simple: start voting for candidates who aren’t Republicans or Democrats. As a Libertarian, I look to be the swing vote in a very divided Senate, and I will look first to represent my constituents before I make any decisions to vote for or against any bill. I am not beholden to lobbyists or special interests, and I will only serve one term. Politicians need to start remembering that they are not royalty, and their jobs back home are far more important than those they have in the Capitol Building.”