As the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania prepares to meet virtually on Wednesday to discuss possibly censuring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for his guilty vote during President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, the Cambria County GOP has already taken steps to reprimand the legislator.
On Monday, Lawrence Tabas, the state party’s chairman, notified committee members about the plan for the special meeting.
“As far as I know, there’s supposed to be a meeting,” Cambria County Republican Party Chairwoman Jackie Kulback said. “I don’t know if it’s a full-blown meeting. As far as I know, it’s supposed to be a meeting to discuss this.”
Toomey, a Republican, has received backlash from within his own party after voting to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when a group of the then-president’s supporters disrupted the Electoral College certification process of Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Cambria County’s Republican Party is currently circulating a petition that censures Toomey and Pennsylvania’s other senator, Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, who also voted to convict.
The censure states that “the Cambria County Republican Committee does pronounce a Resolution of Censure on Senator Toomey and Senator Casey who have acted contrary to the good order and best interest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America.”
Part of the censure points out that Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, presided over the impeachment, not U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversaw Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial in 2020. Leahy ultimately voted to convict Trump.
Kulback noted that the county censure has nothing to do with Toomey and Casey’s guilty votes, but rather was “for voting to proceed with impeachment and voting that the proceedings are constitutional,” according to the text of the censure.
“Initially, there was discussion in advance of the meeting going a lot of different directions, and during the meeting I said, ‘You’ve got to put the emotion out of it, just peel back the emotion. And what are the facts?’ ” Kulback said.
“And the fact is that we have the Senate conducting a hearing in the absence of Justice Roberts, who sat in on and oversaw the first impeachment hearing. It’s just a very slippery slope that you go down whenever you have anybody sitting in, and you had a senator sitting in, and he presided as the judge, and he acted as the jury. That sums it up.”
At least a half-dozen county Republican parties in the commonwealth have censured Toomey – one of only seven Republican senators who voted to convict – in some way.
“It doesn’t surprise me the reaction by party leaders,” said G. Terry Madonna, senior fellow in residence for political affairs at Millersville University. “A censure is a reprimand. It has no legal bearing at all.”
Toomey had already announced before the impeachment that he does not plan to seek reelection in 2022.
“I think he’s probably done,” Madonna said. “I could be wrong. He’s a very bright guy. He’s a conservative to the core, particularly on fiscal matters, but also on social matters. You can disagree with him, but I’ve always found him to be honorable. … I think a lot of the Republicans who want to censure him think he’s not honorable because he didn’t support his party.”
Madonna said the rift between Toomey and some leaders in the Republican Party could negatively affect his ability to be an effective legislator during the next two years.
“You can’t rule out that it may be more difficult for him to move legislation or to have influence within the committee structure,” Madonna said.
“You can’t rule that out. Now, I know one guy that will work with him – his name is Casey. But, politically, within the party, he’s virtually become an outsider.”