Pennsylvania moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter could be facing a political fight for his life in the election of 2010 as conservative Pat Toomey announced that he would consider a primary challenge against him, while a new poll shows that 66% of state Republicans want rid of Specter.
Specter has never really been popular with his own state party, but they are completely livid with Specter after he was one of three Republicans to vote for President Obama’s economic stimulus bill. The biggest threat to Specter would be a challenge from former Rep. and current Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, who came within an eyelash of defeating Specter in the 2004 Republican primary.
GrassrootsPA reported that Toomey said in a local radio interview that, “Senator Specter cast the deciding vote on the very worrisome stimulus Bill, when he could have negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama for more productive tax cuts and less wasteful spending.”
A statewide poll that ran over the weekend in the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that 66% of Republicans want rid of Specter. The problem for Republicans is that Specter remains popular with Democrats and Independents. Only 42% of Democrats wanted to get rid of Specter. This might not sound like much until you consider that Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the state by 1.17 million voters. Democrats and Independents in the state almost outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin.
Pennsylvania is trending more Democratic, so it would stupid for the Republicans to nominate a right winger like Toomey, who would certainly lose to a Democrat, but when I look at these numbers another scenario comes to mind. It is possible, in fact almost likely, that if Specter were to lose the Republican primary, he could pull a Joe Lieberman, run as an Independent and get elected. Arlen Specter represents the moderate nature of Pennsylvania politics, better than Pat Toomey. Republicans desperately want rid of Specter, but I don’t think they realize that he is the only thing keeping the seat Republican. Getting rid of Specter would virtually gift wrap this seat for the Democrats.