Toomey for Senate: The Republican incumbent deserves another term
November 4, 2016 12:00 AM
Christopher Dolan / The Citizens' Voice via AP
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
By the Editorial Board
If Washington is known for one thing these days, it is rank partisanship. As they prepare to cast their ballots Nov. 8, voters should be wondering what might be done about this. One step would be to re-elect Sen. Pat Toomey, a moderate Republican who has demonstrated a willingness to reach across the aisle.
Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has many fine qualities, including what she describes as a cooperative streak of her own. However, Mr. Toomey has a credible record. There is no reason to upend the balance he gives the Pennsylvania delegation — our senior senator, Bob Casey, is a Democrat — or to dispense with the seniority he acquired during his first term.
Mr. Toomey, who served in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2005, and Ms. McGinty, Pennsylvania’s former secretary of environmental protection and onetime gubernatorial candidate who served as chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, have waged an ugly campaign. She criticized him for declining to say whether he will vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. However, Mr. Toomey disavowed some of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and did not endorse him. Enough said.
Ms. McGinty has served on the boards of energy companies with natural gas interests and championed the fracking industry she regulated as DEP secretary. However, Mr. Toomey is the more reliable advocate for natural gas drilling, taking a skeptical view of federal regulation of the industry while Ms. McGinty, who has strong support among environmentalists, is more amenable to it. With thousands of good-paying jobs at stake, this matters hugely to southwestern Pennsylvania. In a slow period now, the industry is sure to come roaring back, providing more employment for engineers, lawyers, land agents and blue-collar workers and lifting other economic sectors through a ripple effect.
On many issues, the candidates take the positions of their parties. Mr. Toomey opposes abortion; Ms. McGinty supports choice. She supports a hike in the minimum wage; he has not. He voted against the Iran nuclear deal; she has voiced support for it. He wants to repeal Obamacare; she likes the concept and wants to tweak it. He supported the GOP leadership’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court; she has criticized the Senate for not taking up the nomination.
However, Mr. Toomey is neither inflexible nor a party zealot. That is to say, he is no Rick Santorum, the GOP ideologue who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate from 1995 to 2007. Mr. Toomey has proved to be far more open-minded, even on Second Amendment issues that many Republicans, supported by the National Rifle Association lobby, are loath to touch. After the 2012 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., he teamed with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on legislation to expand background checks for gun sales. The legislation failed, but his willingness to put himself front and center on a commonsense reform won Mr. Toomey the endorsement of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gabby Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting.
A certain political expediency may be gained when a state has one senator from each party, as Iowa did with Democrat Tom Harkin, who served from 1985 to 2015, and Republican Chuck Grassley, who has been in office since 1981. In such cases, a state remains important to the White House, no matter which party holds the presidency. This is especially important at a time when the national political conversation is so divisive and one group of partisans attempts to shut the other out.
Also, when a state’s senators hail from different parties, they must collaborate — as Mr. Toomey and Mr. Casey have done — on filling vacancies on the federal courts. Such collaboration encourages the nomination and confirmation of moderate judges, who, unencumbered by ideological orthodoxy, make the best decision-makers.
Mr. Toomey has made mistakes — opposing the important Iran deal was one of them. However, he has proved to be a sensible senator who has refused, even during the hysterics of the presidential campaign, to stray off course. The Post-Gazette endorses Sen. Pat Toomey for a second term.
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