Sen. Pat Toomey

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2018, file photo, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., speaks during a television news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Cambria County’s two most prominent Republicans want the party to move forward and concentrate on future elections after the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania reprimanded U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for voting to convict President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial.

The state GOP stopped short of censuring Toomey, a fellow Republican.

Neither action carries any legal bearing.

Cambria County Republican Party Chairwoman Jackie Kulback did not say how she voted.

“Our committee is focused on the upcoming elections,” Kulback texted. “We are moving forward.”

Robert Gleason, former chairman of the state committee, added: “I think, moving forward, the Republican Party is in a very strong position.”

Gleason is no longer a member of Pennsylvania’s GOP committee and therefore did not have a vote.

The state committee voted 128-124 in favor of a reprimand – instead of a full censure – with 13 abstentions.

“Even though there was a split vote on the censuring of Sen. Toomey, I don’t think that makes any difference,” Gleason, a Westmont resident, said. “The Republican Party will be united, moving forward. The vote was on Sen. Toomey as an individual and not on the party’s future.”

Toomey spoke with the committee virtually a few days ago.

He did not comment after the vote.

G. Terry Madonna, senior fellow in residence for political affairs at Millersville University, saw the issue as a difference between Trump supporters and party members who want to move on from the former president.

“It’s the Trumpites versus the non-Trumpites,” Madonna said. “I don’t want to divide it up in a way that you can’t be somewhat in the middle on it, presented starkly as two sides. But I don’t think anyone would disagree with the premise that what basically happened to Toomey was that the Trumpites were furious for what he did.”

Mary Lou Davis, co-founder of Indivisible Johnstown, dismissed the action, sarcastically saying, “Big deal,” and adding, “I just don’t think there’s any teeth in (the rebuke).”

Toomey was one of seven Republican senators to vote “guilty” during the trial when Trump was accused of inciting an insurrection that led to his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The rioters temporarily disrupted the Electoral College process of certifying Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Trump claims the election was stolen from him, although federal and state courts rejected more than 60 legal challenges brought by the president and his allies.

“Right now, this is ridiculous,” Davis said. “They have tied up the impeachment, the events of Jan. 6, all of this, to perpetuate a big lie, and I think it’s shameful. The Republican Party is certainly not what it used to be. Or perhaps it is and it’s just that we’re seeing it in light of the extremists that have now overtaken the party.”

The text of the reprimand stated: “We are outraged that Senator Toomey took part in an impeachment process that facilitated Democrats’ tireless obsession with partisan political retribution.”

“With tonight’s vote to rebuke Senator Toomey, Pennsylvania Republicans have sent a loud and clear message: they are the party of Donald Trump, QAnon, anti-American extremists and the Big Lie – and dissent will never be tolerated,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills said in a written statement. “Republican leaders have had countless opportunities to right the wrongs of January 6th and atone for their role in the violence, but at every turn, they have only doubled down.”

The Pennsylvania Republican Committee also censured four Democrats – Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and former health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine – for their handling of the election and COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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