At quite literally the eleventh hour, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey finally revealed that he’s a Trump voter.
The Republican incumbent managed to make it all the way until 7 p.m. on election day without telling voters who he was supporting for president. At his polling place in the Lehigh Valley, he told reporters he came to the decision to vote for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump “in the past couple of days.”
“In the end I decided we’ve just gotta change the course we’re on, so I voted for Donald Trump,” he said.
Toomey’s campaign announced this morning that the senator would be voting at 6:45 p.m., roughly an hour before polls close in Pennsylvania and after the local news has wrapped up for the evening.
Toomey, whose Democratic opponent Katie McGinty has made much out of his non-support for Trump or Hillary Clinton, was the only Republican senator up for re-election who had not made a decision — publicly, at least — about Trump prior to Election Day. The sitting senator said recently that he would “probably” tell voters whether or not he’s supporting Trump at some point before Election Day. Clearly, that did not happened.
Instead, the senator spent months dipping, dodging and side-stepping questions about the Republican presidential candidate while his opponent has branded the Pennsylvania ballot as the “Trump-Toomey ticket.” President Barack Obama chided Toomey in front of tens of thousands of people last night for lacking “courage” and failing to make a decision on Trump.
As for Toomey, he had said that he remained “unpersuaded” by Trump. At one point, after Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigrants, Toomey bolted into an elevator to avoid answering questions about the presidential nominee.
“The way I look at it is we have two terrible choices, and I think many Pennsylvanians view it this,” he said last month, according to Politico. “This is not, ultimately, a referendum on anyone. It’s a choice. It’s a bad choice.”
Toomey also ran an ad about how he’s not really supporting either candidate:
This election season, Toomey waded through a deluge of attacks on his indecision coming from the left, including being branded “Fraidy Pat.” He was the butt of a joke on late-night television. New York Magazine ran a headline that said: “Nonconformist Senator Bravely Refuses to Endorse Trump or Not Endorse Trump.”
What Toomey was trying to do through his indecision was obvious to political watchers and experts. They said he wanted to appeal to moderates who may split their ticket, voting for Clinton at the top of the ticket and Toomey for senate. But at the same time, he also didn’t want to alienate the Republican base by saying he won’t cast a vote for Trump.
“He certainly can’t get tight with Trump — there’s too much volatility there and you’re attaching yourself to a hand grenade that can go off at any time,” Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion Christopher Borick said last month. “But [Toomey] doesn’t want to appear to be deserting someone that a lot of hardcore Republicans support.”