Arlen Specter, who is facing a threat from the right in next year’s primary, recently launched a preemptive strike against former Club for Growth president Pat Toomey with a television ad that attacks his likely opponent for ties his to Wall Street. A recent Quinnipiac poll found Specter trailing Toomey by 14 points among Republican primary voters, 41 percent to 27 percent. Toomey came within 17,000 votes of beating Specter in the 2004 Republican primary, and the state’s Republican Party has only gotten more conservative in the intervening two years. However, there is a problem.
On the one hand, a staunch conservative like Toomey should sound great to the Republican base; on the other hand his chances of winning a general election against a well-funded Democrat are questionable at best. There is a reason Specter has always been a centrist (some would say leftist) Republican- that is what Pennsylvania will vote for.
It is interesting to note how hard conservatives have pulled for Norm Coleman in Minnesota, who actually scores less conservative on the The Poole-Rosenthal Conservative Rankings than Specter does. Yet those same conservatives can’t wait to oust Specter. While I am the first to admit that he was on the wrong side of the stimulus bill with Snowe and Collins, I am not ready to hand Democrats another senate seat on principle. Specter does have more conservative credentials than any Democrat replacement would. To whit:
* He supports personal accounts for Social Security
* He voted for Alito and Roberts
* He was given a 65% by the NTU, which is a hell of a lot more than we’d get from a Democrat
* He voted to repeal the AMT
* He voted against raising the minimum wage
* He voted yes on building a fence across the Southern border
* He voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act
* He was given an 81% rating by the Christian Coalition in 2003
* He supports drilling in ANWR
* He voted for school vouchers in DC
* He voted against withdrawal from Iraq within 9 months in 2008
Is Arlen Specter my first choice to be a Republican Senator? No. But I do want the party to think long and hard about whether it can win with a more conservative candidate in a state that trends to the left.
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