BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey confirmed Monday he will not seek re-election in 2022 and plans to leave public service, a surprise move for the fiercely anti-tax and anti-regulation lawmaker who had been seen as a favorite for GOP nominee for governor.
Toomey’s decision will force Pennsylvania Republicans to look elsewhere for nominees for both seats in a state where both parties have shown they can win statewide races.
At a news conference near his home in suburban Allentown, Toomey said he will serve out the final two years of his second term, “and after that my plan is to go back to the private sector.”
“I always thought that I’d probably serve just two terms and often mentioned that along the way,” Toomey said at the news conference, attended by his wife and family.
Toomey is a stalwart proponent of free markets and smaller government who was staunchly supported in the past by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch and the Club for Growth, the free-markets advocacy group Toomey once led.
But Toomey had often expressed frustration with how the Senate operates and had never promised to run for a third term. Still, the news of his future plans that broke Sunday has reshuffled the deck for Republicans looking ahead to the two major statewide races in two years.
As Pennsylvania’s only statewide elected Republican official outside of the courts, until his decision to step aside he had been widely considered among the favorites to receive the gubernatorial nominee in 2022, when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited.
Toomey had long expressed an interest in running for governor, and he said his decision to announce he would not be running for anything in 2022 was prompted by calls from people seeking to help him run for Senate or governor.
His family remained in Pennsylvania while he served in Congress, Toomey said.
“I’m looking forward to more time back at home,” he said.