Former US Senator Rick Santorum:
The playing field looks promising for Toomey. Polls have Specter’s reelect number among Republicans at 25 percent – stunningly low.
That’s not the worst of it. Specter beat Toomey by 17,000 votes in 2004 largely by winning Southeastern Pennsylvania by 42,000. But since then, more than 83,000 Specter-supporting Republicans in the region have left the party.
Pennsylvania’s political Houdini has escaped similar predicaments in the past by burnishing his conservative credentials in the run-up to the primary – hence the announcement on card check this week. So, too, his potentially crucial vote against Solicitor General Ellen Kagan, which conservatives are touting as a death knell for her chances of being named to the Supreme Court.
Specter is also fighting President Obama’s bid for more government-run health care. The senator’s conference room still features his famous Rube Goldberg chart, which contributed to the collapse of Clinton-care in 1994.
The argument that Specter has the best chances in a general election will become more persuasive next year, when the GOP faithful face the harsh reality that they are more than a million registered voters behind the Democrats. However, thanks to the prospect of facing Specter, whoever wins the primary will not face an A-list Democratic opponent.
In 2004, President Bush and a Senate colleague from Western Pennsylvania made the difference for Specter. Those dogs don’t hunt anymore. This year, his help may come from Peg Luksic, Larry Murphy, and anyone else who helps split up the vote next spring – anyone other than Pat Toomey, that is.
It will be fun to watch. And watch I will.