In the final days leading up to the election, Pennsylvania is getting significant attention not only as a battleground state for the presidency, but also for the U.S. Senate. Republican incumbent Senator Patrick (Pat) Toomey, is hoping to defend his seat against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty, but the latest Huffington Post Pollster averages show McGinty likely leading Toomey by three points. If 54-year-old Toomey loses his senate seat to McGinty it’s very possible that the Democrats could take back control of the Senate.
Here’s what you need to know about incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
1. Before Politics Toomey Was a Wall Street Banker
Toomey was elected as Senator from Pennsylvania and took office in 2011 after beating the late Arlen Specter. Before he became Senator, Toomey represented Pennsylvania’s 15th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 until 2005.
Prior to his career in politics, however, Toomey worked as a banker on Wall Street. In 1984 at age 23 Toomey was hired and worked on currency swap transactions at Chemical Bank, and then in 1986 he began work on interest rates, currency-related derivatives, and foreign currencies after he joined British merchant bank Morgan, Grenfell & Co. He stayed with the company until its acquisition by Deutsche Bank in 1991, leaving over concerns that work environment flexibility would be reduced.
Toomey’s first-hand connection to Wall Street has drawn criticism from opponents who believe that Toomey’s personal involvement in the banking sector, along with his support for deregulation and opposition to financial regulatory reform, have shown him to be intimately involved with the industry that during and in the wake of the financial crisis caused chaos for so many citizens (and voters).
2. He is The Former President of Club For Growth
Toomey is the former president of the Club For Growth, a political action committee (PAC) that identifies itself as a “national network of over 100,000 pro-growth, limited government Americans who share in the belief that prosperity and opportunity come from economic freedom.” The group puts economic policies at the heart of its work, focusing in particular on cutting taxes.
As president of Club For Growth from 2005 until 2009, Toomey advocated for fiscally conservative measures, such as pro-growth tax reform and a balance to the federal budget. He also encouraged fellow Republicans to support Bush’s push to privatize social security, a move that he has since backed away from, perhaps particularly in light of polling that suggests two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters are opposed to privatization.
3. He Has Been Married to Wife Kris For Nearly 20 Years
According to USNews, Pat Toomey’s sister was a childhood friend of Kris Duncan and introduced the couple. They were married in 1997 and have three children together: Bridget, 16, Patrick, 15, and Duncan, 6, who was born while Toomey was campaigning for Senate in 2010. The family lives in Zionsville, Pennsylvania.
Kris Toomey is a former manager of client services at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She is an advocate for the Flight 93 Memorial Project and National Park Service site to honor the heroism of the crash victims, as well as an ironman finisher who has raised money on behalf of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
4. Mostly Conservative, He’s More Moderate on Gun Control Issues
Toomey’s stance toward gun control has proven to be more moderate than his approach to many other social issues. In 2012, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Toomey partnered with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III to expand federal background checks for firearms purchases. The Manchin-Toomey Amendment had 55 votes in favor, but with five votes shy of the 60 vote threshold it was ultimately rejected.
The Senator has also worked with Democrats on strengthening gun control legislation in wake of the Pulse nightclub shootings in Tampa, Florida this past summer. Toomey’s effort to bring Republicans closer to the middle with regards to gun control has drawn praise across the aisles. However, McGinty has criticized her opponent for coming up short on substance or significant support for gun control issues. The Morning Call has a comparative look at where both Toomey and McGinty stand on a range of public policy issues.
5. He Won’t Say Whether He Supports Donald Trump
While a variety of his fellow Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from or denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, particularly in light of the video which emerged where the candidate is recorded making disparaging comments about women, Toomey has failed to state whether he supports the Republican candidate for president. In fact, according to CBS, of his fellow senators running for re-election Toomey is the only incumbent who refuses to state whether he supports Trump.
McGinty has criticized Toomey for this, stating that his lack of condemnation of Trump’s negative behaviors or actions is essentially an indication of his support. Toomey has countered this accusation, saying that he is running an “independent” race.