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Education Advocates Flood Toomey Offices with Calls, Faxes

ToomeySenator Pat Toomey can’t come to the phone right now.

His voicemail is full, too.

Pa.’s junior Senator’s office has been flooded with calls, emails and faxes, all in an attempt to get him to oppose Betsy DeVos’ nomination for Education Secretary.  

Toomey’s Republican colleagues Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have announced their intent to vote no. If all 48 Democrats join them, it would create a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.

Toomey has said unequivocally that he intends to vote for DeVos. The Senate advanced her nomination early Friday and expected to take a final vote Monday.

“I am pleased to vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Betsy DeVos has spent nearly three decades of her life, tens of millions of dollars, and considerable personal energy toward one noble goal: ensuring that poor children trapped in failing schools have the same opportunities that wealthy and middle class kids already have,” Toomey said in a released statement.  

But Democrats think Toomey is the next most likely Republican to switch to a ‘no’ and tilt the scales. Several national publications have named him as such, including the Huffington Post.

“Toomey should understand that voting for DeVos is not in Pennsylvania’s interest, or the interests of students.  If Toomey votes for DeVos, he is putting his party and donors over people,” said Chuck Pascal, a Democratic State Committeeman from Armstrong County and a Sanders Delegate to the 2016 DNC. Pascal led the fight to move the Democratic Party’s platform in a more progressive direction on education.  

Before the national call-out, but especially since, the flood increased. Local, state and national grassroots volunteers and groups have come up with many different paths to pressure Toomey.  

Advocates report consistent busy signals and full voicemails at the Senator’s DC office and his offices across the state.

According to, a website that allows you to send faxes for free over the internet and then tracks to faxes sent, Toomey is the most popular recipient over the last 30 days. He received almost 15,000 faxes in that time.  

With the surge in people trying to keep up with the volume of calls causing lines to be dropped, Pennsylvania’s senior Senator Bob Casey’s office began having a surge of calls.  This caused Casey to start fielding phone calls himself

Some on social media even reported that Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) is fielding calls to forward to Toomey’s office in the hopes of stopping DeVos. PoliticsPA reached out and Doyle’s staff said they are only fielding constituent calls as usual and not coordinating an opposition effort.  

Toomey’s office said the staff was working to field the large number of calls coming into their offices in both D.C. and Pennsylvania, but played down the focus on DeVos.

“Senator Toomey’s staff in both Pennsylvania and Washington are taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach in answering as many calls and emails as possible while also attending to other responsibilities, such as helping veterans, seniors, and attending to legislative concerns,” a spokesperson said in an email.  

The efforts to get Senator Toomey do not stop with the protests and calls.  A Philadelphia teacher has started a gofundme page to ‘buy’ Toomey’s vote in the DeVos nomination.  The page raised almost $40,000 of its $55,800 goal – a number determined by past campaign contributions by DeVos and associates to Toomey.  

DeVos isn’t the only subject spurring activists to target Toomey.

His offices have been the focus of regular protests called “Tuesdays with Toomey,” where demonstrators gather outside of his district offices on him to stand up to President Trump’s agenda.  

18 Responses

  1. Please, please, please reject Ms. Devos for this important job!!!!!! Imagine that your children were going to public schools, have special needs and the person with the significant job of leading the Department of Education has no experience with public schools.
    This is a scandal!! Please express concern for the children of this country and vote “NO!”
    Thank you for your attention.

  2. Governor Casey, I am a retired teacher of 39 years in Public Schools. I feel the destruction of these institutions will not serve the children of America. Please get in touch with Senator Toomey and tell him not to vote for DeVos.

  3. While DeVos and Toomey both reak of self- interest, the only pay for profit schools that haven’t failed our children are the ones that the middle class and poor cannot afford.

  4. @ G. Agree with your great point on the “every-4-years” voters. Perhaps we should be glad for at least this in our current political culture. I’d like to see more of it. Democrat or Republican, they at least show up and vote, IMO probably knowing that once every four years it is expected of them. Maybe some hard work could get a few of them more deeply and often involved in politics and government. But I wonder what it will take to break the code to allow this to happen.

  5. @Seneca sarcasm in internet posts. Arg, my bad. I agree with you. I think what is possible is that these people are taking such ineffective action(or are expecting more than is possible) with Toomey because they are not people who have been consistently politically engaged in the past. These may be some of those “every-4-years” voters that we’ve been trying to convert to every year voters for forever.

  6. G, please pardon my try at sarcasm with that statement. But I certainly do wonder why anyone on the Democratic side would believe a Republican like Toomey could be persuaded to vote against DeVos, considering how much money the education sector has provided this state’s Democratic candidates, including Governor Wolf.

    If anything, however, the DeVos nomination highlights the influence teachers’ unions have at the state and national level. They have already swayed two Republican senators their way, but it’s unlikely the rest will waver. After all, teachers’ unions generally fund Democratic Party candidates, and their undue influence in politics is part of the problem her nomination is intended to address.

  7. jmarshak— Wrong. DeVos supported the common core with her money for years. Only since she’s been nominated has she expressed skepticism of CC. Most of the true left, as well as most of the right, oppose Common Core.

  8. national head of charter school movement says he WON’T back de Vos. spineless toomey, who has $$$ invited in charter schools, may just change his tune to the same beat as the national charter movement. wonder if betsy’s 60K was enough $$ to buy his vote, him being such a man of integrity and all.

  9. Finally able to leave a voicemail on the DC line a few minutes ago – that one and all the others were busy all day today and yestereday. Except one time at the Allentown office – but that voicemail was full. He ignores this at his peril, and at the peril of all those 4 targeted Repub Reps in 2018. Go ahead, keep looking like Lackeys for the Billionaire class – we will flip the delegation by 2020.

  10. @ Seneca why do you think Anti-Devos crowd (AKA every teacher I know), confused our senators? Casey declared his intent to vote no days ago, so there is little to be gained by petitioning him.

  11. All of this just so the anti-DeVos crowd can say they tried. DeVos will have Toomey’s vote. And it could even be that some of the callers have confused Toomey with Casey.

    In the meantime, it seems that Toomey and his staff patiently continue to find all sorts of reasonably cordial and non-confrontational ways to tell the Senate Democrats behind the anti-DeVos effort to go pound sand.

    Unless the floor vote is delayed, it will all be history on Monday.

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