(CNN)Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania announced on Monday he would not run for reelection in 2022, setting off fierce competitions for Senate and governor in the battleground state.
In a speech next to his family in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Toomey said his decision was personal rather than political, noting that he will have served 18 years in Congress and “a lot of time away from home.” The senator said he would serve out the rest of his term before returning to the private sector.
Toomey, 58, said he had been getting calls “almost on a daily basis” from people who wanted to help him run for office in 2022. The senator, the only statewide Republican official outside of the courts, said he wanted to be “candid” with them and the public once he had made his decision. His announcement will allow Republicans at the state and federal level ample time to consider and wage their campaigns.
In response to a question, Toomey maintained that if he had decided to run for office in 2022, he would’ve won again.
Toomey won his first House race in 1998 and won reelection twice. He then became the head of the Club for Growth before running for Senate in 2010. He narrowly won that race and his reelection bid in 2016, after waiting until Election Day to announce he would vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The senator has attempted to keep at arm’s length the various controversies surrounding the President, saying in response to a question on Monday that he “decided early on that I am not responsible for the President’s Twitter feeds” but has a “very constructive working relationship” with the president.
“When I’ve disagreed with him, which I have, I haven’t been bashful about saying so,” said Toomey. “But that has nothing to do with this decision.”
The fiscal conservative serves on the Banking, Budget, and Finance committees and said on Monday that he hopes to become the chairman of the Banking panel after the November elections. He said that he was proud of his work on other issues, including tax reform, regulatory relief, trade policy and fighting the opioid crisis. He said he wanted to see the US pursue free trade agreements with the United Kingdom, European Union and many countries in Asia, and work to overhaul the federal housing finance system.
Democrats are hoping to take back the Senate in 2020. If they fail, the 2022 races will also give them a prime opportunity because 22 Republican senators will be defending their seats compared to a dozen Democrats. Like Toomey, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina has already said he will not run for reelection in 2022.