Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who will be replaced in Congress come January by Democrat John Fetterman, admitted Thursday that former President Donald Trump was not a positive influence on the Republican ticket in Pennsylvania — which saw far-right gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano lose in addition to Mehmet Oz.
In a CNN interview, the retiring senator began by criticizing the effect of Mastriano’s campaign on down-ballot races. “We had an ultra-MAGA candidate who never appeared to even attempt to expand beyond a hardcore base that was very, very committed to him,” Toomey said. “But he ended up losing in an epic beatdown.” Mastriano, a 2020 election denier, was defeated by a convincing margin of more than 14 points, yet has refused to concede.
Regarding the loss of a few winnable congressional races in his home state, Toomey said he believed it was because of “a combination of a real problem at the top of the ticket, but also President Trump inserting himself into the race.”
“It was never going to be helpful,” Toomey said, adding that Mastriano “was his big interest.”
“We were at a time when it’s good for Republicans for the race to be about President Biden, who is not popular, whose policies have failed,” Toomey said. “And instead, President Trump had to insert himself, and that changed the nature of the race and that created just too much of an obstacle.”
Oz consistently lagged behind Fetterman in the polls after narrowly beating out the more mainstream Republican David McCormick. Even Trump reportedly groused about Oz’s chances after endorsing him.
“My party needs to face the fact that if fealty to Donald Trump is the primary criteria for selecting candidates, we’re probably not going to do really well,” Toomey argued.
When asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett if the disappointing results of this year’s midterms will be enough for the party to move on from Trump, Toomey was skeptical.
“There is not going to be one discrete moment at which the fever breaks and Donald Trump becomes irrelevant. That’s not likely to happen,” Toomey predicted. “What I think is [that] his influence wanes and a debacle like we had across the country Tuesday night from a Republican point of view accelerates the pace at which that influence wanes.”
“You know, there are some interesting data points already. A year or two ago if you asked Republican voters [whether] they consider themselves more traditional Republicans or Donald Trump Republicans, [Trump] had a huge lead,” he said. “That has flipped. And that’s telling, I think. And I think that’s going to continue.”