BETHLEHEM, Pa. (KDKA) — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s announcement on Monday that he will not seek re-election or run for governor in 2022 has stunned many in the political world.
It also creates opportunities for aspiring candidates here and across the state.
For months, political insiders said Toomey was stepping down as senator to run for governor. Now he has upended the Pennsylvania political scene by saying he’s done with electoral politics.
“That announcement sent shock waves across the Republican horizon,” Republican political strategist Mike DeVanney told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
“This announcement shakes everything up. I think you’re going to see wide-open primaries for governor and Senate,” adds Mike Mikus, a Democratic political strategist.
Toomey’s withdrawal opens the floodgates for two big statewide offices rarely on the ballot without incumbents at the same time: governor and senator.
“I think you’re going to see a huge crop of candidates looking at the governor’s office and look to southwestern Pennsylvania for a nominee for U.S. Senate,” says DeVanney.
Some possible Republicans include the four who ran for governor two years ago: Scott Wagner, Mike Turzai, Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth. But add some others, along with U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler who is reportedly eyeing the Senate seat.
Democrats say they have a deep bench for both offices, too.
“We’ve got people like Congressman (Conor) Lamb here in western Pennsylvania, John Fetterman — who has been looking at either governor or Senate – Attorney General Josh Shapiro most likely will be running for governor,” says Mikus.
And look for more women and people of color to run for both offices.
“Certainly, if you are a person of color or a woman, I think that would be hugely beneficial,” notes DeVanney.
Then watch for the “domino effect,” says political analyst Doug Saltzman as more seats open up as incumbents move up and out.
“If a member of Congress decides to run for this U.S. Senate seat, then say a state Senator runs for his or her congressional seat, then someone is going to run for that state Senate seat,” says Saltzman.
In short, there are a lot of moving political pieces in play in Pennsylvania.