Saturday, August 2, 2014
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Toomey Rising Again

As yet another national discussion takes center stage, PA GOP Senator Pat Toomey is positioned as a key voice in the debate.

Toomey Rising Again

For the second time this year, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey is positioned as a key voice in a national debate.

The Washington Post reports Toomey, a pro-gun advocate who's rarely heard from on the subject, is at the center of a possible Senate compromise on background checks for gun purchases.

The Post says Toomey and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a life-long NRA member highly-rated by the gun lobby, are working on a measure requring background checks for all gun purchases except those between family members and some hunters.

If such a bipartisan deal emerges it could serve as a catalyst for what seems a dead-stall on gun legislation in the Senate or, at the very least, keep the discussion front and center.

Ironically, news of a possible compromise comes as the gun-control lobby CeaseFirePa plans to demonstrate -- along with Mayor Nutter and former Gov. Rendell --  outside Toomey's Philly office Tuesday morning demanding action on what it calls "common sense" gun reforms.

Now a cynic might note Toomey's involvement in the issue comes after national polling shows majorities of Americans, including NRA members, supporting background checks.

And a cynic might suggest Toomey is looking ahead to 2016 when he faces reelection. And while PA is rightly regarded a pro-gun state, his move to the center on guns could moot a hard challenge from the left on the issue -- in a presidential election year in a state that's gone Democratic in every presidential election after 1988.

But here's the thing. Toomey's stance makes sense. Just as his stance earlier this year on the sequestration made sense. You'll recall, he proposed giving President Obama power to decide where to cut the 2.3 percent in federal spending called for by sequestration.

That, of course, didn't fly. And this gun thing might not fly either. But Toomey -- who term-limited himself to three House terms and says he'll limit himself to two Senate terms (praise-worthy in an off itself) -- seems increasingly in the right place on multiple issues, and a rising voice in America's debates.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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