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Toomey is one of about a half-dozen vulnerable Republicans

"He's a solid conservative," Toomey said about Cruz

Washington CNN —  

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is expected to face a tough re-election battle this fall, voted for Sen. Ted Cruz for president in the Pennsylvania primary Tuesday, a campaign aide confirmed to CNN.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately seized on Toomey’s decision, saying he had missed the memo that voting for the conservative Cruz could hurt his bid for a second-term representing the blue-leaning state.

Toomey is one of about a half-dozen vulnerable Republicans who Democrats believe they have a good shot to defeat as they work to reclaim control of the Senate, which they lost two years ago.

Overall, Republicans are defending 24 seats while Democrats are protecting just 10, only one of which is considered in play. Republicans hold a 54-46 advantage over Democrats now.

A vote for John Kasich, the more moderate Republican governor from neighboring Ohio, could have been a safer vote for Toomey if he wanted to appeal to a broader electorate in November.

The Toomey campaign aide did not comment when asked about the political risks in voting for Cruz over Kasich or GOP front-runner Donald Trump. But Toomey explained his reasoning to a reporter with the Allentown Morning Call, who spoke to him outside his polling place in Zionsville, Pennsylvania.

“He’s a solid conservative,” Toomey said about Cruz. “We don’t agree on everything, but having served with him in the Senate, I know Ted pretty well and I think he’s got a real, real viable shot of beating Hillary Clinton in the fall.”