Casey showing fewer county visits than claimed

Broad and Liberty
MAY 16, 2024

Sen. Bob Casey often trumpets his love for maps. He even created “I ❤️ MAPS” campaign stickers. So when his staffers challenged him to name every county across Pennsylvania last December, he did it with no problem. 

It takes more effort to visit all of those 67 counties yearly. The three-term Democrat who is seeking reelection this year says he does, though his media output doesn’t show it.

On May 3, Chester County-based WCHE Morning Show co-host Steve Wakefoose asked the Scranton native if he feels “the American people have lost a lot of trust in [the] federal government at large.” Casey answered with a qualified affirmative, adding he addresses concerns about distrust by visiting almost every county across the Keystone State each year. 

“There’s no question that sometimes there’s a great distance between—at least in terms of perception—between elected officials and folks that are making determinations about who their representatives are,” Casey said. “But the best way for me to deal with that is to stay engaged, to go to every county every year, basically, which is what I’ve done for years now.”

By Broad + Liberty’s count, Casey’s campaign X page touted stops in 20 counties since January 2023. An examination of the senator’s legislative X brought the tally of publicly visited counties in those 16 months to only 39. His Facebook pages and websites don’t indicate more extensive travels.

Casey faces a reelection challenge this November from Washington County-born Republican Dave McCormick, a Gulf War U.S. Army veteran, a former undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and a former hedge-fund executive. The senator’s claim to annually visit each Pennsylvania county comes shortly before his opponent expects to report meeting that same goal in just this election cycle.

The GOP hopeful plans to have stopped in all counties by the end of next week. At this writing, his campaign has logged 60 visited counties. 

McCormick press secretary Nate Sizemore said Casey could develop a stronger command of the issues facing Pennsylvanians, particularly on energy overregulation and economic pressures, if he got around the state with the same speed. Sizemore also rebuked the senator for making an uncorroborated boast.

“No wonder this creature of the swamp has lost touch with Pennsylvanians’ concerns over sky-high inflation and the war on energy,” Sizemore told Broad + Liberty. “If Casey is willing to lie about this, what else is he not telling voters?”

Casey’s campaign did not return a request for comment. The Democrat has himself attacked his rival’s own ties to Pennsylvania, mentioning that McCormick, who grew up in Bloomsburg, spent about fifteen years in Connecticut. The Republican sometimes returns there to visit his daughter.  

In some cases, doubts about whether members of Congress see enough communities in their states or districts can endanger those pols’ reelections. The late Dick Lugar served 36 years in the U.S. Senate but failed to win renomination in the 2012 Indiana GOP primary after reports stated he was infrequently in his state. (He didn’t even maintain a home there.)

And during the 2004 contest between longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) and Democrat Melissa Bean, both candidates faced reproof about time spent in the suburban Chicago area they competed to represent. Bean lived outside the district, but Crane’s fellow Illinoisan, the eventually disgraced Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, helped to neutralize her vulnerability, saying the 73-year-old Crane “hasn’t been back to his district probably as much as a younger guy would be.” 

While Casey leads in polls by 4.8 percent on average according to RealClearPolling, the margin puts McCormick in striking distance and might impel Casey to visit some communities he hasn’t discussed seeing over the last year and a half.