Nearly every week since Election Day, activists set out Tuesday at lunchtime to question Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey about President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks and to call him out for even a whiff of rubber-stamping Trump policy.
Toomey ran as a moderate Republican and shied away from openly supporting Trump until Election Day.
What started in Philadelphia has spread across the state as “Tuesdays with Toomey” demonstrators rally outside many of the senator’s statewide offices to punctuate a single request — that he listen to his Philadelphia constituents at a public town hall meeting.
One night a few weeks ago, it appeared they might have had a breakthrough.
“Every week, we ask for time during our ‘Tuesdays with Toomey’ rally, and every week we are denied,” said Jessica Lennick, one of the organizers. Toomey has not held a traditional town hall event in years.
“A few Sundays ago — at 7:30 in the evening — one of our organizers got a call from Sen. Toomey’s scheduler asking if we were available at 10 a.m. the next morning,” she said. The impromptu response set the group in motion to meet with the senator.
“We had to try to put people together in a very limited window of time, on a workday in the middle of the business day, to come and speak to our senator,” Lennick said. “He expressed in this meeting that these small-group, closed-door meetings are effective; that he can hear the needs of his constituents effectively that way.
“The people that he needs to hear are the people who can’t show up in the middle of a business day.”
Nancy Chacko had a similar meeting with the senator in Harrisburg.
“Ours was a complete surprise,” she said. She was at a rally at the State Capitol when a staffer pulled her aside and said they would have a couple of minutes to speak with Toomey.
“It was five of us who got to meet with him and it was about 45 minutes we spent (with him),” Chacko said. “The topics we covered were very wide-ranging, primarily because we had no prep time. We had no idea this was coming.
“There was no chance to talk amongst our group to see what are the issues that matter today,” she added, noting that he was willing to engage. “I don’t know if we changed his opinion on anything. I don’t know if we furthered the cause of getting a town hall.”
The “Tuesdays with Toomey” organizers will continue their requests that the senator meet his constituents in a public town hall.
To hear more of Jennifer Lynn’s interview with Jessica Lennick and Nancy Chacko, including their thoughts on Sen. Pat Toomey’s “tele-town halls,” press “Play” at the top of the page.