There will soon be just one LaSalle Academy graduate in the US Senate (Jack Reed), and we’ll have a clearer picture on who could replace the other after today’s primaries in Pennsylvania.
With Republican US Senator Pat Toomey, LaSalle’s valedictorian in 1980, set to retire, the GOP primary appears to be a tight race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and conservative commentator Kathy Barnette. Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” is endorsed by former president Donald Trump, with Barnette running even further to the right.
The Democratic primary appears to be less competitive, with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman holding a commanding lead over US Representative Conor Lamb and several other lesser-known candidates.
Toomey, who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, announced in October 2020 that he wouldn’t seek another term in 2022.
Toomey and Reed, a Democrat, were the rare pair in the Senate to have attended the same high school. Brooklyn’s James Madison High School also has two graduates currently serving in the Senate: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Toomey has not played a significant role in the Republican primary to replace him, in large part because he is not aligned with diehard Trump supporters. He did not endorse any candidate in the race.
Oz has held a small lead in the polls for several months, but Barnette has surged in the final weeks despite Trump issuing a statement declaring her unelectable in a general election.
Businessman David McCormick is also considered a contender in that primary.
Democrats see the Pennsylvania race as one of the party’s few chances to flip a Senate seat and keep control of the chamber in the mid-term elections.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.