Sen. Pat Toomey today voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.
That decision comes in the face of fierce opposition from his constituents in Pittsburgh, among others around the state, who have been holding weekly protests to urge the senator to vote against Trump’s cabinet picks.
John Fetterman has another idea about how to hold Toomey to account: taking on the newly reelected U.S. senator in 2022.
No, the Braddock mayor isn’t announcing a run years before the election takes place.
But the Harvard grad who drew national media notice during his first Senate campaign told The Incline Tuesday that “all the issues and the reasons that I ran are still very much in place. In fact, it’s only going to get more severe with Donald Trump as president.”
“Pat Toomey’s vote confirmed DeVos as secretary of education,” he said. “I mean, one vote matters.”
Although Toomey was reelected in November 2016, people unhappy with his vote are already looking ahead to 2022. (Pennsylvania’s other senator, Bob Casey, voted against DeVos and is up again in 2018.) Hundreds of people attended today’s Tuesdays With Toomey event outside the senator’s South Side office and chanted, “We won’t forget.”
Some Fetterman supporters are already hoping the 2022 challenger will be him.
“I certainly would be honored and certainly would like the chance to a get a crack and let Pennsylvania voters decide between somebody who really understands and cares about Pennsylvanians as opposed to someone who just confirmed a large donor as an education secretary,” Fetterman said. “I’d be humbled if I get that chance.”
In fall 2015, Fetterman launched his bid for the Democratic nomination, which resulted in a number of national stories that mentioned his tattoos. He won about 20 percent of the vote statewide in the Democratic primary, compared to Katie McGinty’s 42 percent and Joe Sestak’s 32 percent.
His support was higher in Allegheny County, where he beat McGinty with 42 percent of the vote. In the general election, Toomey received 40 percent of the vote in the county, compared to McGinty’s 55 percent.
After his defeat, Fetterman went on to endorse McGinty and Hillary Clinton, who beat his pick for president, Bernie Sanders. Shortly before the election, he urged potential third-party voters to cast a ballot for Clinton over Donald Trump.
“Hillary Clinton is not evil … especially when you compare her to Donald Trump,” he told The Incline in November.
Trump or no Trump, Fetterman said his plans for the immediate future are essentially the same: “to work and serve in a forgotten community, and to remind Pennsylvanians that there are a lot of places like this across the state,” he said.
“I like to think that as a Sanders progressive who also was able to fully get behind Secretary Clinton’s campaign that we can come together as a party and take back what we’re going to lose over the next four years with Donald Trump and six years with Senator Toomey.”