- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2020

Sen. Patrick Toomey, a two-term Republican, announced Monday he will retire from politics in two years, giving up his Senate seat and rebuffing overtures to run for Pennsylvania’s governorship, and leaving a major hole for the GOP to fill.

Mr. Toomey said he was fulfilling a personal term-limits vision, having served three terms in the House from 1999 to 2005, then winning two Senate terms, first in 2010 and again in 2016.

“By the time I finish this term, I will have been in public office for 18 years over a 24-year period,” Mr. Toomey said at a press conference in Pennsylvania.

He said he was announcing his decision early — even before the 2020 election cycle concludes — because supporters had been calling him, asking if they could hold fund-raisers or otherwise begin to ramp up efforts for him.

“I’ve made a decision, it’s not going to change, and so I want to let everybody know,” he said.

He also shot down reporters’ suggestions that chaos at the White House, President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his recent positive diagnosis, or the trickiness of dealing with Mr. Trump were part of his decision.

“That played absolutely no role whatsoever,” he said.Mr. Toomey said he supports Mr. Trump’s reelection, is looking forward to serving his last two years with Mr. Trump in office, and would be willing to be a surrogate campaigner for him.

Pennsylvania has been a political battleground at the state level in recent decades, with Mr. Toomey having won a seat that had been held by a Republican-turned-Democrat, the late Sen. Arlen Specter. And the state’s governorship has traded off between Republicans and Democrats since the late 1960s.

Mr. Trump became the first Republican to win the state since 1988.But Mr. Toomey is currently the only Republican elected statewide, save for judges.

He said he was confident he could have won if he had run again.

Mr. Toomey joins Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina as Republicans who sit in competitive states, with seats up in 2022, who have said they won’t run.

That puts the GOP on the defensive, even before knowing the outcome of the 2020 races.

Mr. Toomey said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that Republicans will keep control of the Senate in this year’s elections.

If they do, he is in line to become chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

In the Senate, Mr. Toomey has been an ardent fiscal conservative and free-trade advocate — he even voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement because he said it was too restrictive toward the flow of goods.

He also has struck discordant notes with the GOP on issues such as guns. After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, he worked on legislation to expand background checks to include nearly every firearms sale.

“Sen. Toomey has never hesitated to cross partisan lines when it comes to keeping Pennsylvanians safe from gun violence, and we’ll miss him when he leaves Congress,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Sen. Toomey’s ability to get elected as a gun-sense Republican is further proof that gun safety is a winning issue on both sides of the aisle.”

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