(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, is expected to announce Monday that he will not seek to retain his seat when his term comes to an end in 2022, according to media reports.
Toomey, a Republican, is currently in his second term after winning statewide elections in 2010 and 2016. He succeeded longtime Sen. Arlen Specter, who had served as a Republican for most of his 30 years in the chamber but switched to the Democratic Party when it became clear he was likely to lose a primary to Toomey.
Word of Toomey’s intention to retire was first reported Sunday by The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing “two people familiar with his plans.” The Inquirer also said that Toomey had no plans to run for governor; two-term Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is subject to term limits and will not be on the ballot when his current term ends in 2022.
Toomey was originally elected to Congress in 1998 to represent a Lehigh Valley district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He promised to serve no more than three terms in that chamber, and he fulfilled that pledge when he ran instead against Specter in 2004, losing by a thin margin.
Now 58, Toomey has established a record as a staunch conservative who has been one of the few lawmakers in Washington who can criticize President Donald Trump from time to time and avoid infuriating the president or his supporters. In July, when the president suggested that it might be necessary to send federal forces to Philadelphia to quell protests, Toomey took great care to downplay that possibility without directly opposing the president.
Another topic where Toomey sometimes strayed from Republican orthodoxy was on gun control. In the summer of 2019, after shootings in Ohio and Texas claimed more than 30 lives, he pushed the president to take action on strengthening background checks for gun purchases.
The news Sunday of Toomey’s impending announcement drew reaction from both ends of the political spectrum
“Huge loss for PA. Sen. Toomey is a smart, thoughtful, and principled Senator,” said Beth Ann Mumford, a regional director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy organization, in a Twitter post. “He’s taken arrows from both sides along the way, but has remained civil and respectful and fully focused on removing the govt barriers that hold people back.”
State Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Drexel Hill, argued that Toomey represented a type of Republican who could attract a coalition of voters across the aisle.
“Downside for the PA GOP and all their gerrymandering: it has made them oblivious to the concerns of the majority of the state, which is not ultra -conservative,” Zabel wrote on Twitter. “This is why they get their hats handed to them in just about every statewide race. Toomey was the last of his kind.”
Before entering politics, Toomey worked in banking and has three children with his wife of 22 years.