Toomey focuses on York County in campaign's final days

Jason Addy
York Dispatch
  • Sen. Toomey stopped in Strinestown before campaign events in Johnstown and Wilkes-Barre later on Wednesday.
  • With six days until the election, Toomey will be traveling across the state to reach voters.

Sen. Pat Toomey made a stop Wednesday morning at the Strinestown Community Fire Co. to meet with local firefighters and chiefs as his re-election campaign enters its final week.

In this file photo, Sen. Pat Toomey, gestures during his press conference at Strinestown Fire Company Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Amanda J. Cain photo

The Republican told the small group about the work he has done on behalf of law enforcement officers and emergency responders in his first six years in the U.S. Senate, highlighting the numerous federal grants that have been awarded to fire departments in Pennsylvania and his efforts to protect the families of fallen emergency responders.

In the past two years, Toomey has introduced the Thin Blue Line Act, which would make the killing or targeting of emergency responders an aggravating factor when considering the application of the death penalty, and the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, which would ensure that children of responders killed in the line of duty receive the maximum federal Pell Grant for higher education.

“This is not an unfamiliar set of issues for me, and I really appreciate the great working relationship that I have with the firefighters and police and emergency responders,” he said before leading a moment of silence for two Des Moines, Iowa, police officers who were “targeted, selected, stalked and murdered" early Wednesday morning.

Unsurprisingly, Toomey drew stark contrasts between himself and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty on the issue of security. McGinty has propagated a “completely false narrative” about police being racist and biased, Toomey said, while slamming her support of “sanctuary cities” like Philadelphia, which have policies in place to shield residents from federal immigration authorities.

“The illegal immigration status of these violent criminals bestows a privilege that is just absolutely insane and endangers our communities,” he said.

Most polls have the candidates within a few points of each other, something Toomey acknowledged, but he said he was confident of keeping his seat.

“It’s Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a big, competitive state,” he said. “It’s relatively evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, so it’s always a competitive election, especially in a presidential year.”

The state’s junior senator seems to be making one final push in York County, making two appearances in the area over the past two weeks. On Oct. 19, Toomey was the keynote speaker at a York Rotary Club meeting.

Toomey stops at York Rotary Club meeting

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has not been in York County since October 2014, when she rallied support for now-Gov. Tom Wolf, said Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County.

Toomey called out his opponent for her "decision to hide from voters," saying McGinty "doesn't seem to be getting out of the house much" and she's "not doing much campaigning." The comments provoked a stern response from McGinty's campaign.

Senator Pat Toomey, left, chats with Alert Fire Company member Douglas Freeze, right, of Emigsville and retired Strinestown Fire Department Chief Steve Tawney, middle  after his press conference at Strinestown Fire Company Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Amanda J. Cain photo

"Pat Toomey is losing and growing more desperate by the day, resorting to attacks that have zero credibility," campaign spokesman Josh Levitt said in a statement, noting that McGinty has held at least five open press events each week in October. "The fact is Pat Toomey has refused to come clean to his constituents about supporting Donald Trump for months, even going so far as to cancel a public event at a high school last month to avoid Trump questions."

Toomey said Republican presidential nominee Trump has given him “some real reservations,” but he’s “absolutely totally opposed to (Democratic nominee) Hillary Clinton.”

“The things (Trump) has said and done, I have some problems with,” he said. “On the other hand, I also recognize that if he were president, he would sign legislation that is important to me — things like the repeal of Obamacare, restoring sanctions on Iran, pushing back some of the regulations that are holding us back.”