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February 01, 2017

Toomey believes DeVos is a 'great pick,' spokeswoman says

Statement squelches speculation that Toomey will oppose DeVos

Two Republican senators are saying Wednesday they will not support Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary, leaving the Michigan billionaire's appointment to President Donald Trump's cabinet in doubt.

MORE ON TOOMEY: Philly teacher launches GoFundMe to buy Pat Toomey's vote on DeVos

The news left some education activists urging Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey to join his Republican colleagues in opposing DeVos. Her nomination could be rejected if three Republicans join all 48 Democratic senators in voting against DeVos.

But Toomey's spokeswoman, ER Anderson, squelched speculation in an email to PhillyVoice. 

"Betsy DeVos is a champion of school choice and Senator Toomey believes she is a great pick," Anderson, said in an email. "Senator Toomey does appreciate the feedback from folks in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania."

DeVos has donated $60,050 to Toomey's campaign funds, according to the Center for American Progress.

The potential nomination of DeVos, a charter school advocate who also supports school vouchers, has been ardently opposed by proponents of traditional public schools, who allege she strives to privatize the public school system.

Two U.S. senators, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said Wednesday they will not support DeVos for confirmation, sending opponents searching for a deciding vote.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym tweeted a pair of phone numbers to Toomey's offices, which already have been flooded with "thousands" of calls regarding Trump's travel ban. His office also has been receiving an abundance of faxes.

As word erupted that Murkowski would join Collins, numerous others began pleading on Twitter for Toomey to oppose DeVos.

"Tuesdays with Toomey," a bipartisan group of protesters who hold weekly demonstrations outside Toomey's offices, pinned its urging, to the top of its Twitter page. 

Collins cited DeVos' "concentration on charter schools and vouchers" as one of the reasons she was considering opposing DeVos on the Senate floor, according to The Washington Post. Murkowski also voiced hesitation toward DeVos's emphasis on school choice, saying it's difficult to implement in rural areas.