Pennsylvania---nicknamed the Keystone State--has a soft spot in my heart.
My mother was born in Pittsburgh while her father was fighting in the Korean War. When I was younger, I visited my Aunt Frannie’s home in West Mifflin. I can’t say I looked forward to seeing her, but it was a memorable wonder looking over the hillside where her towering two-story home stood. The valley led down to the urban core of Pittsburgh. Even then anyone with two eyes in their head could see how the steel and other manufacturing industries were hitting hard times. That was 1992, and the crooked trade deals and crony crapitalism have only hurt working families more.
Pennsylvania’s voting contingency contains all the elements of the Not-So-Silent majority—a strong, endearing ethnic enclave of working and middle-class voters—define Election 2016. They will assure (or doom) Trump’s Presidential chances this year. The hard times have been particularly rough for them. For those who still register as Democrat, it’s more out of tradition and deference to the Democratic Party of their parents’ (and grandparents’) time. Republicans are now out-registering Democrats in a state which has not gone Republican in Presidential years since 1988. Such good news cannot pass by unread … and reread.
Even though the incumbent Republican governor lost his re-election bid in 2014 (he didn’t govern as a Republican, did not advance right-to-work, wanted to raise taxes, and refused to privatize the liquor industry), Pennsylvania Republicans expanded their numbers in the Harrisburg state legislature. Five months later, voters in Philadelphia elected a Republican assemblyman, the first time in over twenty years! The ground game is looking better for Republicans this year.
And one man at the top of the state-wide ticket is particularly important, and will very likely make or break not just control of the United States Senate, but the Presidency.
I like this guy.
This man typified the Tea Party miracle wave of 2010.
Edging out a fellow Congressman, a veteran named Joe Sestak, Toomey squeaked out a narrow victory. But what a win, part of the seven-seat gains which Republicans recouped in 2010.
Most politicos don’t even remember, but Toomey faced a long road to the U.S. Senate. In 2004, he challenged former Republican US Senator Arlen Specter. Ironically, Specter was as pink as they come on Republican terms, and would eventually return to his Democratic roots after Obama’s election. The ghost of an incumbent was a RINO in 2004, leaning toward the Democrats with his refusal to vote for a conviction following the Clinton (Bill, not Hillary) impeachment in the House. Specter played to the center, as if his lack of ideological conviction was an asset. He even crowed about his “centrism” in weekly news magazines. Toomey wanted to upset that establishment mentality.
He also targeted the profligate, spend-thrift ways of Washington. Toomey’s brand—fiscally prudent without a fault--has defined his tenure, from a local townsman to US Senator.
A conservative born in Providence Rhode Island (who would have guessed? Awful Surprising and Awful Gratifying), Toomey studied Government at La Salle University in Pennsylvania, and never looked back.
After working in the corporate sector, he opened up his own restaurant with his brothers. He then served on the Allentown Governing Board, and put forth a charter which would require a supermajority for any tax increases in the city. The voters approved.
In 1998, he ran for an open Congressional seat, one which an incumbent Democrat was giving up. Who could blame him, since Republicans had taken over four years ago! Democrats love getting elected, but only when their team holds all the seats.
Toomey is a rare bird, and was a welcome politico even then. In his Congressional bid, Toomey pledged to serve three terms, and he kept his promise. In two of the elections, he faced off against the same President of Bethlehem Steel, but beat him down.
An impressive record, to say the least.
Election 2004 would not be Toomey’s time to shine, but instead of sulking and sitting out, Toomey became President of the Club for Growth. Six years later, Toomey would defeat Sestak, who had in turn defeated the desperate long-term incumbent Arlen Specter during their unlikely, contentious Democratic Primary.
As a U.S Senator, Toomey has not forgotten his roots. He fights for public safety officers. He is pro-life, but he has also taken care to keep the major Democratic hubs, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, within his reach. The moment he was sworn in, Toomey knew he would endure another bruising fight for his seat in 2016. He supports school choice, and has worked with both sides (sometimes to his political detriment) to ensure student safety in their classrooms.
He has also been a staunch opponent of illegal immigration since his tenure in the House. This Northeastern elected official, 3,000 miles away, did more to commemorate the tragic and tragically unnecessary death of Kate Steinle. He introduced one of two key bills to stop sanctuary cities in this country. My two US Senators did and said nothing, since they side with illegals more than their constituents. Toomey voted against the Gang of Eight bill in 2013.
On financial matters, he voted against the fiscal cliff, tax-raising, hair-rising budget deal in 2012. His brand of take-no-prisoners budgeting is exactly what we need in Washington. I still remember him coming out of the last minute Fiscal Cliff drama, and telling the country at large: “We have to stop the spending! If we have to shut the government down, then let’s do it!”
His sparring in the race of his lifetime has been particularly outstanding. His opponent, Katie McGinty, has to spend more time running away from Crooked Hillary and her anti-working class platform. The Trump card is all played out, too.
Pennsylvania is the key to Election 2016. The Keystone state is within striking distance for Trump. Toomey’s re-election chances are a pure toss-up. Toomey wins, Trump can likely win, and all of us win.