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Toomey Tries To Get Traction With Young Voters In Pittsburgh

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA

With one week until Election Day, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey made an appearance at an empty Downtown Pittsburgh apartment to drum up support among millennials.

The apartment, located above Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room on 7th Street, attracted a few dozen supporters – about half appeared to be millennial aged.

Among Toomey’s young potential supporters was University of Pittsburgh student Joey Pickens. Though originally from Maryland, Pickens is registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

“I’m very invested in the Republicans keeping the Senate and it seems like there is no more important race than here in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I would like to support Pat Toomey, I’d like to know more about him.”

While speaking, Toomey seemed to pick up on that theme, asking students to talk to their classmates about the election. He placed importance on Allegheny County, saying it could be the county that decides who wins the election.

“We kept it close in 2010,” said Toomey of his race against Democrat Joe Sestak. “We can do better this time and that could make all the difference in the world.  This is obviously a very big county, a lot of voters here, but there’s no substitution for your personal outreach.”

College student and Toomey supporter Stephen Harris, of Wexford, said he cannot let Democrat Katie McGinty win this election.

Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey met with millennial supports and would-be supporters in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

“I do not believe in her immigration sanctuary cities policies,” Harris said of McGinty’s policy that allows cities to adopt laws or practices that reduce the risk of undocumented immigrants being prosecuted. 

Harris said he also supports Toomey because he is “a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”

The group CeaseFire Pennsylvania formally endorsed McGinty in August

Toomey did not address guns when talking to the crowd, but did reference sanctuary cities

“This is politically correct madness run amok,” said Toomey, who previously introduced legislation that would end sanctuary cities. “We held the Republicans, picked up a few Democrats and we had a majority… in that vote on the senate floor but we didn’t have the 60 votes we needed to overcome (Senator) Harry Reid’s filibuster.”

Toomey promised to take up the fight again, but warned that it would be even harder to get the legislation passed if the Democrats took control of the Senate.

The race in Pennsylvania has attracted millions of dollars in campaign contributions and media buys from sources outside of the state.  Both parties have put a high priority on winning the state as Democrats try to gain control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans try to retain control.

Toomey said a top concern from millennials is the state’s “underperforming” economy and the ability to find family-supporting jobs. Toomey said one key to growing the economy will be supporting natural gas exploration.

“Energy can be the catalyst for bringing back a lot of manufacturing,” he said. “A lot of manufacturing is energy intensive."

McGinty has supported increased federal oversight of drilling in the state, while Toomey said he thinks there is enough control held by the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection. He said he would fight any expansion of the EPA’s role in regulating the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.