Democratic Swarthmore Mayor Tim Kearney pulled an upset against state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, in Tuesday's election. Unofficial results showed Kearney with 54,027 votes and McGarrigle with 46,963 with a majority of the polling places accounted for.

To a standing ovation, McGarrigle told the Republican crowd at the Springfield Country Club that he conceded to Kearney.

"He ran a great campaign and I congratulated him," McGarrigle said before thanking those who helped him. "If you think about it, I'm a poor kid from Morton that made it to the Pennsylvania Senate."

McGarrigle told his supporters, "This had nothing to do with you. This had to do with a very unpopular president in a very unpopular time in this country. It's really a shame but you know what? I had a hell of a run and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Then, as his voice broke, he said, "To my friends and family, I thank you."

McGarrigle held the post since 2015. Prior to that, he served on Delaware County Council, where he also was chairman. As senator, McGarrigle served as chairman of the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and also served on the Banking and Insurance; the Community, Economic and Recreational Development; the Local Government; and the Rules and Executive Nominations committees.

Kearney has been mayor of Swarthmore for two terms and served on the borough's zoning hearing board and planning commission. He and his wife are partners in their architectural firm that has provided expertise for Cheyney and Widener universities. They have lived in Swarthmore for 23 years.

On his Facebook page, Kearney wrote of his victory, "From the bottom of my heart: Thank you. Every door knock, every phone call, and every dollar you gave helped us make history tonight."

He spoke of the moment.

"I'm so honored to be the first Democrat to ever represent the 26th Senate District, but this is not about party or personality," he said. "It's about making Harrisburg work again, and do the most good for the most people - not the powerful. We've got a lot to do. And I can't wait to get to work for you."

Kearney is not actually the first Democrat to represent the 26th state senatorial district. John J. Sweeney represented the district after his victory over Joe Loeper in 1974.

In campaign ads, Republicans painted Kearney as an "elitist liberal professor." One mailer featured a $100 bill on fire and said, "Radical Liberal Professor Tim Kearney thinks taxpayers have money to burn. Swarthmore resident, Professor Tim Kearney, wants to raise taxes on just about everybody!"

Kearney's campaign also jumped into the fray. 

"Harrisburg and political bosses and State Sen. Tom McGarrigle have put corporations ahead of middle-class families, oil and gas interests ahead of our environment and tax cuts for millionaires ahead of our public schools," one of his mailers read. "Join me in fighting back!"

Not all of the campaign was negative.

McGarrigle highlighted his childhood, being brought up by a single mom as the senator said it taught him the value of hard work and always keeping one's word. When the Senate's not in session, he's at his automotive shop at 6:30 a.m. each day.

After talking with constituents in the district, Kearney said he's learned that people just want to provide for their families and get ahead and stay ahead of their monthly bills. 

Honing an architect's viewpoint, Kearney said it was important to sweat the small stuff – while not losing sight of the big picture.

The 26th state senate district comprises of Aldan, Clifton Heights, East Lansdowne, Glenolden, Marple, Media, Millbourne, Morton, Newtown, Prospect Park, Ridley Park, Ridley Township, Rutledge, Springfield, Swarthmore, Tinicum, Upper Darby and Upper Providence in Delaware County and Easttown and Westtown in Chester County.

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