Going After Arlen
Monday, March 02, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Five years after Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) beat him in a Senate primary by only 17,000 votes, and months after he ruled out a rematch, Club for Growth President Pat Toomey opened the door to another run. The stated reason: the stimulus package. But the reason Republicans inside and outside Pennsylvania have been talking up a Specter challenge for months is the Employee Free Choice Act. In the past, Specter has supported it. If he supports it now, and no Democrats break ranks, the bill almost certainly passes.
Could conservatives actually beat Specter in a primary? Yes, and that’s ironic.
A weekend poll showed that 66 percent of Republicans, boiling over in anti-stimulus anger, would support replacing Specter. But only 42 percent of Democrats oppose Specter. A slight plurality of Democrats want to keep him, and that’s complicating Democratic efforts to find a first-tier challenger against the senator.
In 2004, Specter benefitted from the support of unions like the AFL-CIO. If Specter votes for the Employee Free Choice Act, he knows he will probably win union support that’s crucial for the general election while firing the starting gun for conservative groups who are only really useful to him in the primary.
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