By Kathleen S. Carr '96
When Robert Casey '82 was sworn in as the new United States senator from Pennsylvania, a group of 80 supporters gathered around him. And they were all related.
"We had an enormous crowd," he says, "And we also had 2,000 people at the reception. I was heartened by that. It doesn't speak though only to their support for me — but to what our campaign was about — and that's why I feel particularly renewed."
Casey feels a great responsibility to work with other Democrats on their campaign agenda — namely, healthcare and holding the president accountable for Iraq policy.
"Voters were speaking in November when they voted for a Democratic Congress," Casey says. "They wanted change and a new direction, not only in healthcare and Iraq but with other major issues, like the environment and global warming."
As the son of Robert P. Casey '53, the 42nd governor of Pennsylvania, you might assume that politics runs in the family. But, when asked if this is what he always wanted to do, the new senator's answer is candid and surprising.
"This was not an aspiration of mine," he says. "If you had asked me in college if I were going to run for office, I would have said, ‘no,' confidently. But, after several years practicing law, I began thinking about it. I ran and won as auditor general and served eight years. If you asked me, after serving as state treasurer and then running and losing the race for governor, ‘Are you going to run for Senate?' — I would have said, ‘no.' People at the grass roots level said they wanted me to run and that's when I started to think seriously about it. In March 2005, I made the decision. And I realized every day of my campaign that that was the right decision."
As for remembering Holy Cross, Casey talks of "days and nights with friends." And his first dance with his classmate and now wife, Terese '82, which he remembers as "one of the best evenings I ever had."
There was also a lot of time spent in discussion — about life, economics and sports. And he fondly recounts the time spent in class. "There were great professors who challenged and enlightened me. I remember taking an Irish literature course, and it awakened in me a sense of my own heritage, which I didn't have growing up."
In addition to spirited debate, Casey notes that Holy Cross nurtured and strengthened his faith.
"At Holy Cross," he says, "it wasn't just about learning your faith. It was about being engaged with it in the world. It wasn't always articulated, but it was quietly preached: ‘To whom much is given much is expected.' The Jesuits reminded us that we have an obligation to share what we learn."