One elec­tion down, next be­gins for Bob Casey

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Kauffman rkauff­man@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kauf­fee_DT on Twit­ter

HAVER­FORD >> Walk­ing into Green En­gine Cof­fee Co. in Haver­ford last week, a post-mod­ern, stylish get­away with wooden bars, bricks walls with an ivy cutout pa­trons quickly click­ing away on lap­tops sip­ping lat­tes — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey took a look around and humbly di­gressed.

“This place is way too cool for me,” said Demo­crat Casey, the se­nior United States se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia.

“She knows all the hip places,” he said, ges­tur­ing to his press sec­re­tary, Jack­lin Rhodes.

When asked how he likes his cof­fee, Rhodes laughed — “He’s very easy to work for.”

Casey likes his cof­fee with cream and sugar, venti, to go. He is op­ti­mistic for the Ea­gles under a new coach and a rookie quar­ter­back, although ques­tioned their re­ceiv­ing corps. He is a

fan of his­tory — he said he found many par­al­lels in this year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to the writ­ings of Hunter S. Thomp­son in 1972’s “Fear and Loathing on the Cam­paign Trail,” a zany look at the cam­paign of Demo­crat Ge­orge McGovern and his spec­tac­u­lar loss to Richard

Nixon.

Casey is the son of a for­mer gover­nor, Robert P. Casey. He says call­ers still con­fuse him with his dad de­spite his death 16 years ago. He was molded into pol­i­tics from a young age. Serv­ing as Penn­syl­va­nia au­di­tor gen­eral and state trea­surer, Casey lost to for­mer Philadel­phia Mayor Ed Ren­dell in the 2002 Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary, but that did not slow down his

po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions.

He was quick to re­act to a com­ment, “Hey, at least you don’t have to worry about run­ning in the cir­cus this year.”

“The day af­ter elec­tion day,” he said. “I have to start cam­paign­ing for my own re-elec­tion.”

First elected to the Se­nate in 2006, Casey de­feated in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Rick San­to­rum, who had served two terms. Casey

en­tered a class of sen­a­tors in which many were in the throes of run­ning for the nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent in 2008 — among them for­mer Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton, for­mer Sen. Wil­liam Dodd, for­mer Sen. Russ Fein­gold, Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, Sen. John McCain and of course, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“There was a lot of in­ten­sity,” Casey said.

He added that the ab­sen­tee rate of many of the Se­nate dur­ing that time was very high, as the many politi­cians vy­ing for the high­est seat were off rais­ing money and cam­paign­ing.

“It’s a change in life in D.C.,” Casey said. “You’re in Washington from Mon­day through Thurs­day and then you leave to go fundrais­ing … the dy­namic you’re able to form with other sen­a­tors is lim­ited and the short amount of time you have to­gether doesn’t help.”

“It has af­fected gov­ern­ing,” Casey said.

Tom Daschle, the for­mer Se­nate ma­jor­ity leader, once said that “a se­na­tor has to raise $10,000 ev­ery day they’re in of­fice – ev­ery day of their six years” in or­der to get re-elected.

“In the House, it’s even worse,” Casey said. “You only have two year terms and you’re in the call rooms that much more.”

Those call rooms were de­tailed co­me­dian John Oliver’s ex­pose on Last Week Tonight re­gard­ing cam­paign fund­ing, where those rooms were cat­e­go­rized as smelly back rooms in the Demo­cratic Na­tional Head­quar­ters with cu­bi­cles and head­sets with “min­ders that make sure they don’t take too long on each call.”

“We should have a sys­tem where we shouldn’t have to spend that much time rais­ing funds,” Casey said.

Casey won re-elec­tion in 2012 over Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tom Smith, who out­raised Casey in funds but ul­ti­mately lost the race.

“That was one of the few times an in­cum­bent can­di­date was out­raised,” Casey said.

Smith brought in over $21 mil­lion in cam­paign funds, while Casey raised just over $14 mil­lion, which was about $4 mil­lion less than he brought in for his 2006 cam­paign.

Now the se­nior U.S. se­na­tor in Penn­syl­va­nia, ahead of Repub­li­can Pat Toomey, who won in 2010 and claimed his first re-elec­tion bid on Tues­day, Casey must start on the 2018 race. He takes so­lace in the fact that vot­ers, es­pe­cially the young peo­ple who have in­un­dated with data in this elec­tion, are more in­volved than ever.

“Your vot­ing record is so much more avail­able now,” Casey said. “Growing up you would have to get the news­pa­per at the end of the week and you’d read how your leg­is­la­tors voted, but it didn’t have a lot of back­ground.”

“Now with the polls and strate­gies, you can view the is­sues rather than just the back­ground,” he said.

Before leav­ing the cof­fee shop, he ex­pressed that re­gard­less of the win­ner on Tues­day — this was before the elec­tion had taken place — he was hope­ful that the can­di­dates would find a way to work across the aisle.

“I just hope they find a will­ing­ness to work with the other party,” he said.

RICK KAUFFMAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., visted Haver­ford last week, en­joy­ing a cup of cof­fee and con­ver­sa­tion in Green En­gine Cof­fee Co.

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