GOP Senator Drops Out Of Re-Election In Blow To Republicans

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According to a new report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not running for re-election in 2022, leaving a significant open seat on the table for the mid-term elections immediately following the upcoming presidential election. The Inquirer based their report on “two people familiar with his plans,” who added that Toomey has decided not to run for the Pennsylvania governorship in 2022 either, meaning that he seems to be planning his exit from elected office. According to the publication, a formal announcement from the Senator “is expected Monday.” (UPDATE: Toomey has confirmed that he is not running for re-election.)

Prior to his time in the Senate, Toomey served as a Representative to the U.S. House from Pennsylvania. Currently, he is the only Republican in a state-level Pennsylvania office outside of judges. As the Inquirer notes, Toomey “has won his two Senate elections by the slimmest of margins,” so with him out of the running, Democrats might be able to pick up his seat. In the 2016 cycle, Toomey beat Democratic challenger Kathleen McGinty by a mere 1.7 percent. Toomey “has long supported term limits and before his 2016 reelection campaign said it was “likely” to be his last Senate bid,” the Inquirer notes.

Although Toomey has made some efforts at bipartisanship, like his attempts to formulate common sense gun reform legislation, the Inquirer notes that since 2016, “protesters have regularly held events outside his offices” and if he “had run again, he would almost certainly have drawn far more vehement opposition than he has faced in either of his previous statewide campaigns.” He played a “major role” in formulating the controversial tax reform package that President Donald Trump signed into law in 2017, according to the Inquirer. That legislation dramatically lowered corporate tax rates, and it preceded record rates of companies buying back their own stocks — suggesting that the business savings didn’t exactly “trickle down” into some kind of across-the-board boost for workers.

Despite expressing some opposition to Trump, Toomey ended up voting for him in 2016, and he has been by the president’s side at crucial junctures, including his Senate impeachment trial — when he voted to acquit the president of both of the charges against him — and more recently, when he came out in support of the GOP plans to rush to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barrett is Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the GOP rush to confirmation — Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are slated to begin soon — upends the precedent that Senate Republicans themselves set in 2016 when they refused to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, citing the imminent election. Now, the GOP says, circumstances are different because the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, so — to them — there’s enough of a supposed mandate from the voters to proceed without any more input from the American people via the upcoming election.

Going forward, Democrats are slightly favored to win control of the Senate in the 2020 elections, according to forecasting site FiveThirtyEight. On October 4, the site gave Dems a 63 percent chance of winning the Senate.