Pat Toomey, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania, is emerging as Mitt Romney's most likely running mate.
A source in the Romney campaign said that Mr. Toomey, who won a statewide election in 2010, could put Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral votes, in Mr. Romney's column. Barack Obama has long had trouble connecting with Pennsylvania voters — he lost the 2008 presidential primary there to Hillary Clinton by a ten percentage point margin even after outspending her three-to-one and campaigning extensively in the state.
Mr. Toomey also both builds on some of Mr. Romney's strengths and could help compensate for some of his weaknesses. Like Mr. Romney, Mr. Toomey was successful in the private sector. He spent six years on Wall Street dealing in foreign currency markets, and then started a family restaurant business in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Toomey's blue-collar background — his dad was a union worker for an electrical utility company, his mom a part-time church secretary — would help counter Democratic attempts to portray Governor Romney, whose father was an auto-industry executive and governor of Michigan, as a child of privilege.
Mr. Toomey's mastery of tax and spending issues — he used to run the Club for Growth, a pro-growth, free-market-oriented political group — endears him to economic conservatives. And as a pro-life Catholic who challenged Arlen Specter in a primary partly on social issues, he'd generate enthusiasm for the ticket among social conservatives. If relatively unknown nationally, he is nonetheless smart and well-respected within the party.
The Romney campaign figures that if Wisconsin governor Scott Walker wins his recall election, which is scheduled for June 5, it is a sign that Mr. Romney will be able to carry Wisconsin without adding Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to the Republican ticket. As for Marco Rubio, Mr. Romney's whole pitch is that you need a president who understands the private sector. Mr. Rubio just doesn't have the private sector experience. His profile is more like Obama — a young, great speaker, from a minority background who has spend his career in the public sector. Anyway, Mr. Toomey, whose background is Portuguese as well as Irish, is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The final point in Mr. Toomey's favor for Mr. Romney is that it would be a snub of Rick Santorum, who Mr. Romney still resents from the bitter primary campaign. Imagine if Mr. Romney manages to pick a telegenic, Catholic, pro-life Senator from Pennsylvania as his running mate who isn't Rick Santorum, but is instead Mr. Toomey, the guy who ran for Senate in 2004 in the Republican primary against Arlen Specter and lost after Mr. Santorum endorsed Mr. Specter.
For more background on Mr. Toomey, see the 2004 New York Sun editorial The Toomey Party.
Mr. Romney could choose someone else, or a problem with Mr. Toomey could yet emerge. But that's the case for his candidacy as it stands now.