Trump-backed congressman wins GOP Senate primary in Pa.

Trump-backed congressman wins GOP Senate primary in Pa.
© Greg Nash

Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor Republicans vie for Trump's mantle in Pa. Senate primary MORE (R-Pa.) is projected to win the GOP primary in the marquee race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat now held by Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Lawmakers introduce bipartisan Free Britney Act MORE Jr. (D).

The Associated Press called the race for Barletta at 9:41 p.m. EDT.

Barletta, who was backed by President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE and the Pennsylvania Republican Party, defeated little-known challenger state Rep. Jim Christiana Tuesday for the Republican nomination. Barletta, who has served in the House since 2011, will now face Casey in November.

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An early supporter of Trump’s during the 2016 election, Barletta jumped into the Senate race with the full backing of the president. Trump touted Barletta as a “great guy” at a Pennsylvania rally earlier this year, and endorsed him in February.

Days ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Trump recorded a robocall for Barletta, lauding the congressman as an immigration hard-liner and touting his support for the GOP’s tax plan.

Christiana pitched himself as a fresh alternative to both Barletta and Casey, who have both been in Washington for years. But Trump's endorsement of Barletta, coupled with Christiana's low name recognition and fundraising, kept the state legislator from gaining traction.

While Barletta was heavily favored to win on Tuesday, the congressman still faced scrutiny during the primary campaign, particularly over his lackluster fundraising. Republicans had major concerns about Barletta's prospects against Casey after Barletta raised only a half-million dollars in the last three months of 2017.

Barletta stepped up his fundraising, however, raising more than twice that in the first quarter of this year. But Barletta is still far behind Casey, who has brought in more than $10 million since the beginning of the cycle.

Barletta also faced some damaging headlines, which will likely be fodder for Democrats in the general election.

In January, CNN reported that, when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pa., Barletta did an interview with American Free Press, a weekly newspaper that promotes anti-Semitic views. Barletta’s deputy campaign manager said the congressman was “not aware of these individuals’ background” when he did the interview, saying the candidate has always condemned “hate, bigotry and racial supremacy in all its forms.”

Casey, who has served in the upper chamber since 2007, is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in a state Trump won in 2016. But while Pennsylvania trended red in 2016, Trump only won the state by less than 1 point.

Casey goes into the general election with an edge — especially if Trump’s approval ratings continue to remain underwater closer to the November election.