A Montgomery County real estate developer and former statewide Republican candidate has announced his run to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Jeff Bartos, 48, has noted his interest for weeks, and is the biggest name to step into the potentially crowded GOP primary so far.
In a kickoff video posted to YouTube, Bartos talked up the importance of small businesses and took on the mantle of former President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump represented someone listening to millions who felt like no one as fighting for them,” Bartos said. “And we cannot go back to the days when elected officials in Washington thought of Pennsylvania as just two cities and a whole lotta farm land in between.”
In the opening ad, Bartos also highlighted his work during the pandemic providing emergency relief through the PA Thirty Day Fund, which hands out “quick, easy” grants of up to $3,000 to small businesses “free of red tape,” according to its website.
He also shared the news on Twitter Monday morning with the caption, “I’m running for U.S. Senate to get sh*t done.”
Bartos, who has not served in elected office before, rose to prominence in GOP circles as the GOP, 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, alongside Scott Wagner.
Wagner lost to Gov. Tom Wolf in his landslide reelection bid, but Bartos impressed Republicans by keeping a calm demeanor throughout the race as the ticket’s junior partner.
It wasn’t just the GOP who noticed him. Bartos also earned the respect of his opponent, now-Lt. Gov. — and 2022 Democratic Senate hopeful — John Fetterman.
“Jeff is a good guy and a good friend. I welcome him to the race,” Fetterman tweeted in response to Barto’s announcement. He is one of three declared Democrats vying for the seat.
Bartos joins Montgomery County attorney Sean Gale and former whistleblower Everett Stern as the two declared GOP candidates.
Among the other candidates rumored to be interested in a Senate bid for Republicans are former Trump Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithewaite, former Eastern District U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, current U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser and Guy Reschenthaler, former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, and former state House Speaker Mike Turzai.
Republicans will also need to pick a 2022 gubernatorial candidate, further complicating the political calculus.