Talk about odd couples.

What could Kim Bracey, York City's Democratic mayor, have in common with Pat Toomey, the Keystone State's tea party-backed Republican senator?

Enough, it turns out, that Toomey invited Bracey to be his guest in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address Tuesday.

A spokesman said the senator's invitation is a nod to bipartisanship, something Toomey believes he shares with Bracey.

"It's no secret how (Bracey) works with the York delegation at the state level and isn't afraid to cross party lines," said Steve Kelly, Toomey's press secretary.

Toomey is fearless in that sense, too.

A bitter debate over gun control measures raged last spring in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Just when it looked like positions were so entrenched no legislation would ever see the light of day, Toomey stepped up, working with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on a bill to expand background checks to transactions at gun shows and online.

It would not have affected non-commercial transfers, such as between family members, and actually expanded gun rights in some cases.

Although it was a common-sense compromise supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, the bill failed to clear the Senate.

The attempt, however, was enough to put Toomey in the cross hairs of powerful gun lobbyists like the NRA, which threatened to pull his "A" rating. Other gun rights advocates pledged to find a primary challenger for Toomey in 2016.


We commended the senator then for the courage to do what's right, and we do so now for trying to keep the bipartisan spirit alive. We don't always agree with Toomey, but we need more politicians willing to reach across the aisle – or across the state.

Kelly said Toomey and Bracey haven't worked together very often, but he's hoping that changes because her reputation for bipartisanship is well known.

Bracey, who will sit in the gallery audience overlooking the House floor, echoed that hope.

"It is my sincere hope that the relationship Sen. Toomey and I are forging will illustrate that there is always the opportunity to work to find common ground and to put the needs of the people of Pennsylvania ahead of partisan politics."

Who knows?

This could be the start of a beautiful, bipartisan friendship.