Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Coleman has received an endorsement from a Pennsylvania GOP heavy-hitter—U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
Coleman, then a state representative, was one of a handful of elected Republicans to back Toomey’s 2004 GOP primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Toomey lost in a close race with 49 percent of the vote.
“Jeff Coleman’s message is right for this moment,” Toomey said. “He’s arguing that civil debate rooted in conservative principles is the best way for Republicans to win elections and ultimately govern. He’s right. Jeff also knows that the lieutenant governor’s primary role is a limited one- maintaining decorum and delivering the policy agenda.
“On both fronts, Jeff has the experience and relationships to bring people together and make the next Republican governor successful. I’ve known Jeff for almost two decades. In a field of good people, he’s the best prepared for the challenges of this office,” Toomey said. “I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for lieutenant governor.”
Coleman thanked the senator for his endorsement. “Eighteen primaries ago, I backed Sen. Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter. That initial loss built an infrastructure that still wins elections to this day. That model puts principles first, which is always the right choice,” Coleman said.
However, it’s an open question whether Toomey’s endorsement will sway Republican primary voters.
“Endorsements are really context-dependent,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “An endorsement from, for example, President Donald Trump could have a strong effect in a Republican primary, while it could have negative consequences in a swing district. In that circumstance, it is unlikely Toomey’s endorsement will have much effect in the lieutenant governor’s race since it is such a low visibility content and since the senator is not wildly popular among Republican primary voters. On the other hand, if endorsements can help with fundraising or organizational matters, they can be of some consequence.”
And given Toomey’s lack of enthusiasm for Trump, who remains extremely popular with the Republican base, there is a real question about how much this endorsement will help in the hotly-contested GOP primary.
Coleman took part in a recent Delaware Valley Journal debate where he reiterated his view that politics needs a revival of civility, adding: “To be a Republican is to be for limited government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, dignity, freedom, and the value of human life.”
“Politics amplifies that entire series of questions that are irrelevant when it comes to actually deciding should we pave the road, should we build a store, should we legalize something, should we ban this?” Coleman told the Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “I have been very careful not to single out any one political figure because when I do that, the conversation ends. There’s got to be amnesty for people who voted for Joe Biden. We need Joe Biden voters to come back to the Republican Party, or we don’t win the suburbs. That’s a fact.”