Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) could be in very serious trouble. Former Rep. Pat Toomey, who challenged Specter from the right in the Republican primary back in 2004, then went on to head the Club For Growth, is reportedly running again in 2010.So by all means, in a state that, in 2006, tossed out ultra-conservative Rick Santorum by a margin of almost 18 percentage points, let's hope the GOP follows it's own advice and tries to reclaim the majority by fielding candidates who are more conservative than the electorate they're looking to represent.
In this case, bad news for Specter could also be good news for Democrats -- if the ultra-conservative Toomey wins the primary, the Democratic nominee will have a very good shot at winning the seat, as opposed to Specter starting out as the favorite in any general election.
Toomey very nearly beat Specter in the 2004 primary, making it a 51%-49% race even though Specter had the full weight of the Bush White House behind him. This time could be different: There is no Republican White House; the GOP voter base is smaller and even more conservative; and most importantly, Specter has just voted for the stimulus package -- you know, that thing the right-wing activists denounce as a socialist takeover of America.
Indeed, a recent Susquehanna poll showed just how problematic things are for Specter: Among registered Republicans, 66% want someone else, and only 26% say he deserves another term.
Very smart move.