Alex's Outlook

Friday, February 28, 2003

Liberal GOP Senator Arlen Specter is finally getting a major challenge from conservative Representative Patrick Toomey.

Toomey hails from a union- and senior-heavy district that went for Al Gore in 2000 but which Toomey has easily carried. Toomey is very conservative; he never met a tax cut he didn't like and openly favors Social Security reform. He is also pro-life, and has a very strong record against government spending, which is something the Senate desperately needs right now.

Toomey will have a hard time, but he will have help from two quarters: Stephen Moore, master fundraiser and president of the Club for Growth, and the fact that if he can carry such a normally Democratic district, he can carry anything. For the opponents he's had, Specter has never made a very good showing in the party primaries, and conservatives have ample reason to be unhappy with him. Also, Specter has been a thorn in the Republicans' side for as long as I can remember up until Toomey's primary challenge geared up. That means that, although Bush will probably stump for Specter for decorum's sake, he won't support him enthusiastically. The same goes for Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's other, more conservative senator.

If Toomey wins, the Republicans will have two very electable, very conservative Republican senators entrenched in a northeastern battleground state. It will be a huge win for the Republicans if they can pull this off, which is why the establishment will probaby offer Specter tepid support at best.


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