PHILADELPIA - Political veteran Bob Casey, the heavy favorite, easily won the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to challenge conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in the fall.
An effort by Pennsylvania voters to oust lawmakers over a big pay raise also scored at least two victories as both of the state Senate's top Republicans were defeated. The pay hikes were passed in the middle of the night last year, then repealed by legislators under public pressure.
In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski soundly defeated two rivals for the nomination for another term. An Iraq war veteran won the Democratic nomination for Congress in Pennsylvania, while another Iraq veteran was defeated in a congressional primary in Kentucky.
The 46-year-old Casey, son of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, now serves as Pennsylvania treasurer. He was courted by national Democratic Party leaders to take on Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican and a close ally of President Bush. The race could cost a combined $50 million.
Santorum, seeking a third term, was unopposed in the GOP primary.
Casey cruised past two political newcomers in the Democratic primary, Philadelphia pension lawyer Alan Sandals and Philadelphia college professor Chuck Pennacchio.
With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Casey had 431,644 votes, or 85 percent of the total.
Santorum renewed his challenge for Casey to engage in debates and taunted him in the opening moments of the general-election campaign.
"Come out from behind the name and stand before the voters of Pennsylvania and talk about the issues important to the people of this state," Santorum told supporters at his campaign headquarters just outside Pittsburgh.
Casey issued a statement from Scranton, where he was monitoring the vote from his home, saying his nomination reflected Democratic unity.
"Tonight voters from across the state overwhelmingly showed President Bush, Rick Santorum and the whole 'wrong direction' gang in Washington that the values that unite us as Democrats are stronger than anything that might divide us," the statement said.
Some Democratic voters said they were more interested in picking a candidate who could defeat Santorum than in sending a message to Casey that some of his positions, like his opposition to abortion, are too conservative.
"I'm too old at this point in my life for symbolic victories," said Philadelphian David Hyman, 52.
Lynn Swann, a former Pittsburgh Steeler making his debut in Pennsylvania politics, won the Republican nomination for governor without opposition. The former NFL star will face Gov. Ed Rendell, who ran unopposed on the Democratic side.
Sixty-one incumbents in the 253-member Pennsylvania legislature faced primary challenges Tuesday, the most since 1980, including legislative leaders from both parties.
As the results came in, at least a quarter of those candidates were locked in close races. Most of the challengers were recruited by PACleanSweep, a group organized at the height of the pay raise furor.
Swept from office were the Senate's No. 1 Republican - President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer - and Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, who lost to Mike Folmer, a tire salesman.
Two Pennsylvania congressmen also faced primary challenges, including Republican Rep. Don Sherwood, who acknowledged a five-year extramarital affair after his mistress accused him of choking her at his Capitol Hill apartment. Sherwood's opponent, Kathy Scott, is a former guidance counselor who has seized on the scandal.
With 68 percent of precincts reporting in his northeastern Pennsylvania district, Sherwood claimed victory with 57 percent of the vote.
"Pennsylvania voters have sent a message that they want more from their representatives in government," Sherwood said. "I got the message."
Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy defeated a former county commissioner in a Democratic primary for the right to take on freshman Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in a swing district in the Philadelphia suburbs.
In Kentucky, Iraq War veteran Andrew Horne failed in his bid to take on Republican Rep. Anne Northup in a Louisville-area House district. The Democratic primary was won by political columnist John Yarmuth.
In a neighboring district, state Rep. Mike Weaver, a retired Army colonel, easily defeated a little-known fellow Democrat and advanced to face Republican Rep. Ron Lewis in November.
In Oregon's gubernatorial primary, Kulongoski turned back challenges from former state Treasurer Jim Hill and Peter Sorenson, a county politician.
With 40 percent of the ballots counted, Kulongoski had 54 percent percent of the vote. Hill got 30 percent and Sorenson 17 percent.
Kulongoski will face Portland lawyer Ron Saxton in the general election. Saxton bested former Oregon GOP chairman Kevin Mannix and state Sen. Jason Atkinson on the GOP side.