Sen. Pat Toomey will hear from Pennsylvania voters with once-a-day public townhalls for four consecutive days next week, the first such forums since taking a highly publicized stance on the guns issue this spring.
Toomey, a Republican, will be travel straight into the state’s so-called T-region, the area where the most conservative and rural voters live. Typically, this would be a safe spot for him, but he is all but certain to hear from constituents displeased with his work on expanding background checks on firearm sales.
Congressional townhalls during the August recess, when lawmakers take a lengthy break from Washington, used to be a given, but they are not as common as they once were. Many members fear the type of intense fights that erupted at such meetings in 2009 over the health care law. Perhaps the most famous of which was the late Sen. Arlen Specter face-to-face with an “apoplectic” [Specter’s description in future retellings] constituent screaming and shaking during their confrontation.
Conservatives in the crowd may also be angered at Toomey’s unwillingness to join other Senate Republicans in a quest to defund Obamacare by threatening to shutdown the federal government. It was among the first topics to come up at GOP Lehigh Valley Rep. Charlie Dent’s townhall meeting on Aug. 21.
Toomey, who is fiscally conservative, has shown in his first term in the Senate a willing to compromise on issues ranging from gun control to the budget. He voted for the end of the year fiscal cliff deal when other Republicans did not.
He’s still been critical of the Obama administration, saying ahead of the president’s visit to Scranton on Friday that Obama has been “absent or has pursued the wrong policies” when it comes to job growth, but largely has not engaged in the flame throwing prevalent on Capitol Hill.
Toomey’s first townhall meeting, and the one closest to the Lehigh Valley, will be Monday at The Pine Barn Inn in Danville, Montour County at 9 a.m. Others are Tuesday in Laporte, Sullivan County, Wednesday in DuBois, Clearfield County, and Thursday in Coudersport, Potter County. They are all open to the general public.