I've certainly had my issues with Arlen Specter, Arlen, We Really Knew Ye, the Senator from Pennsylvania who, despite his label as a moderate, has spent most of the past many years wiggling around trying to please the conservative contingent in his party. It's been to no avail, of course, because the zealots require total fealty on all matters and waffling is not permitted. Moderate Republicans and Democrats have generally given Arlen a pass, figuring he's really a closet moderate and his turns to the right are just for show as election time approaches.
After doing his own political shuffle, see Ta-Ta Toomey, conservative former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey has decided to challenger Specter once again. He came very close to defeating Specter last time and many of the moderates have fled the GOP, leaving Toomey's base in firm control.
As the Inky notes, Toomey announces GOP senate bid:
Conservative Pat Toomey, a former Lehigh Valley congressman, this morning announced he is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the 2010 election.This may be the only way Arlen goes. As I said before, Puff the Magic Dragon:
In a videotaped message on his new campaign website (www.ToomeyForSenate.com), Toomey says the nation is at a "crossroads" between a greatly expanding federal government and the direction of more economic freedom.
The move sets up a much-anticipated rematch with moderate Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) who earned a fifth term in 2004 after defeating a challenge from Toomey by about 17,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast. Their race will feature a key debate among Republicans: Did their party lose power because it stopped appealing to moderates, or because it was not true to conservative principles?
Specter has long played the role of conservative toady in disguise as a moderate. I'm sure he began his career (long, long ago) as a moderate (fiscally conservative, social issues moderate), which played well with the Southeastern Pennsylvania electorate. With the rise of Reagan, then Bush, the GOP required fealty to its brand of conservative orthodoxy, and Specter complied. The result has been a mixed bag for him. He has alienated his true constituency, the moderate Republicans (and even some Democrats) who live in SE Pennsylvania, yet he is viewed with skepticism by the ultra conservatives, who don't believe for a minute that he's a true believer. And for them, merely following the party line is insufficient. You must be a true convert. So, as much as he scrapes and bows for the, Specter will always be another McCain to them -- someone you just can't trust.
He had a tough primary race during his last re-election campaign and this one may prove even harder.
With the core of the GOP the way it is, there's a good chance Toomey will prevail in the primary. The good news is that Toomey will have a tough time in the general election, since the moderate wing of the state will not want another Rick Santorum.
In fact, I even wondered whether Arlen would revert back to the Democratic Party, which would probably be the only way he could win. In fact, he's been approached by Ed Rendell & others about doing just that, but he has apparently elected not to.
It wouldn't surprise me if the GOP was like one of those secret societies that you're not permitted to leave once you join. Maybe he's afraid that the Republicans will take out a contract on him if he switches his party.