Is Pat Toomey “One of the Most Underrated Politicians in the Country”?
A political blog run by the Washington Post has called U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey one of the country’s “most underrated politicians.”
The Fix’s Chris Cillizza writes that Toomey’s push to run a campaign “based on deliverables, not partisanship” was the reason he beat Democratic rival Katie McGinty in what was the most expensive Senate race in history.
Toomey was among five politicians whom Cillizza deemed “the best candidates of 2016,” including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. All were white men with the exception of Ted Cruz, who is Hispanic. Cillizza named Hillary Clinton “the worst candidate of 2016” earlier this week.
From The Fix:
“Sen. Toomey (R-Pa.) is one of the most underrated politicians in the country. Winning once in a Democratic-leaning state – as Toomey did in 2010 – might be a fluke. Winning twice – as Toomey did this fall – isn’t. (Yes, Pennsylvania is still a Democratic-leaning state despite Trump’s win there on Nov. 8.) Democrats could barely contain their joy when Katie McGinty, an also-ran in the 2014 governor’s race, beat 2010 Senate nominee Joe Sestak in this year’s primary. McGinty’s victory, they believed, would make the campaign entirely about Trump and Toomey — a loser for the incumbent. Toomey did everything he could to avoid the national conversation about Trump — with mixed results. But that focus on what he needed to do to win the race led to a focused campaign in which Toomey, like Portman, talked almost exclusively about things his position in Washington had done for people in Pennsylvania. It was a campaign about deliverables, not partisanship.”
Statewide, Toomey beat McGinty by slightly more than one percentage point, or roughly 87,000 votes, according to unofficial results. During the months leading up to Election Day, polls often portraying the candidates as neck-and-neck or giving McGinty a slight edge over Toomey.
Polls aren’t necessarily reliable – as we learned last month. But it’s worth pointing out that polls that gave one presidential candidate an advantage often portrayed the same party’s Senate candidate with a similar edge. Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in September that candidates for U.S. Senate in swing states like Pennsylvania were “running against their own presidential nominee … as much as they are against their Democratic opponents.”
It’s unclear how much Trump’s bid influenced Toomey – especially considering Toomey’s wishy-washy attitude toward the presidential candidate and his long refusal to state outright whether he was voting for him – which he did, as he revealed just an hour before the polls closed.
Either way, Toomey has faced his fair share of backlash since winning reelection, especially after pushing for the passage of his “Stop Dangerous Cities” bill, which could drastically cut federal funding to Philadelphia and more than 30 other counties in Pennsylvania with formal and informal sanctuary city policies. Toomey’s Philadelphia office sees weekly protests, according to PhillyVoice.
Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.