Toomey has been a huge disappointment to PA conservatives.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has decided not to run for reelection or for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022, according to two people familiar with his plans, a surprise decision by the Republican with significant implications for the state’s next elections.
He is planning to serve out his current Senate term but won’t run for either of those offices, seemingly ending his career in elected office, at least for now. A formal announcement is expected Monday.
Toomey’s office on Sunday neither confirmed nor denied the senator’s plans. The people familiar with his plans spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
As the only Republican holding statewide office other than judges, Toomey was widely seen as the likely Republican favorite for governor in 2022. His decision not to run for that office or for Senate could create two wide-open contests on the Republican side, while depriving the party of running its most established current political figure in Pennsylvania.
It will also open a prime Senate target for national Democrats, regardless of who controls the chamber after this year’s election. A large number of current and former members of Congress, state lawmakers, and other local elected officials in both parties are likely to begin jockeying for position in both races.
Most political insiders had expected that Toomey, 58, would wait until after the 2020 election to decide his future. It was not immediately clear why he had decided to make an announcement now, weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Toomey’s surprise decision comes at an already tumultuous and perilous time for Republicans in Washington. President Donald Trump is hospitalized with the coronavirus. Three GOP senators have also contracted the virus, which could hamper the party’s push to install Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court. And Trump and fellow Republicans face increasingly dire poll numbers, threatening their hold on both the White House and Senate.
“It’s incredibly surprising…….It throws dozens of wild cards into the mix.”Charlie Gerow
The coming Republican primaries for governor and senate will “be a free for all,” Gerow said, with “dozens of candidates emerging from the political and business communities. Half the legislature’s going to want to run.”
Toomey’s absence from the ballot in 2022 could also create an easier path for Democrats hoping to hold the governor’s office and flip his competitive Senate seat. Toomey has won his two Senate elections by the slimmest of margins, but is experienced in statewide races and is a savvy campaigner with significant cash in his campaign account.
However, since his 2016 election he has also become a lightning rod for liberals who have criticized him for, in their view, not standing up strongly enough to Trump. Since that year, protesters have regularly held events outside his offices. If Toomey had run again, he would almost certainly have drawn far more vehement opposition than he has faced in either of his previous statewide campaigns.
“Pat wasn’t one who was thrilled with the politicking and politics that goes with the job. He was always more cerebral, thoughtful, policy-driven,” Dent said Sunday. “You start talking tax reform and he’d salivate.”
Tuesdays With Toomey, which organizes protests against him every week, said Sunday on Twitter that Toomey’s “history of ignoring his constituents and breaking his promises means it is past time for him to leave.”
“I think he would do better in a line of work that doesn’t involve him listening and respecting his constituents, because he did not seem to be able to do that,” Vashti Bandy, one of the leaders of Tuesdays With Toomey, said in an interview.
“We’re not going away,” she added. “We still have two more years with him, so he still has two more years with us.”