As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 06, 2009

PA-Sen: Specter's Ghost

Looks like Pat Toomey changed his mind:

Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in a primary for the second straight cycle, according to Pennsylvania GOP sources.

The Allentown Morning Call reported Thursday that two friends of Toomey’s have said the Club for Growth chief has decided to enter the race.

Toomey narrowly lost to Specter in a 2004 primary by less than 1 percent and recently said he was considering another run.

This means the NRSC will likely spend a lot of time and money having to deal with Specter during the primaries instead of on candidates challenging Democrats. It also means that all good candidates for the Pennsylvania Senate on the Democratic side should apply, because if Rick Santorum couldn't break 41% as a sitting Senator, Toomey, who's probably to Santorum's right, can't break 35%.

As for Specter, his only way out is to pull a Lieberman and either become an independent or switch parties entirely (he was a Democrat early in his career).

From this vantage, the only way Specter wins another term (and it's hard for me to envisioning him not wanting this) is if he leaves the Republican Party (though not necessarily the Republican caucus) and calls himself and independent for 2010. In a three-way race against Toomey and a Democrat, Specter wouldn't have to carry a majority of Republican primary voters, or indeed even a majority of Republicans overall. Instead, he would only have to pull in perhaps a third or so of Republicans, as well as a good chunk of independents and Democrats (which he has fairly consistently done). In such a scenario, Specter would be freed up to vote on measures like the Employee Free Choice Act, among others, as he would be competing not only for the votes of conservatives but also the votes of moderates and liberals.

It's his choice, but either way, the Republicans are losing a seat.

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