Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Specter of Defeat

From reading coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer of the Sen. Arlen Specter/Patrick Toomey Republican primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, you'd get the impression that it was actually Toomey who won rather than the incumbent Specter (the Inquirer requires free registration). The lead paragraph in this morning's analysis piece reads: "Sen. Arlen Specter won. But so did the Club for Growth." How so?

The Club for Growth, the conservative anti-tax organization, groomed Toomey and pumped millions into his attempt to bump off a several-term Senate veteran. That race was given zero chance of succeeding just a few months ago, but by pasting a "liberal" label on Specter, Toomey and his puppet-masters in the Club for Growth came within 16,000 votes of heaving Specter out into the cold. And apparently, a "near upset" of Specter was enough to give the Club for Growth's president Stephen Moore strutting rights, since Specter had to bring in the president himself to help him eke out a very narrow victory. "One thing that came through clearly is there is some discontent with the way Republicans have been governing," Moore said in an interview. "There's a kind of conservative revolt. The White House came within an eyelash of being big-time embarrassed," he said.

Big time! Once again we hear that El Presidente is insufficiently conservative for a large portion of the Republican Party. Sobering thought, ain't it?

Stephen Moore went through the motions, at least, of urging Toomey's supporters to now support Specter in the general election, but there's anecdotal evidence that many of the Republicans who became convinced that Senator Specter has been sleeping with Beelzebub all these years find it difficult to turn on a dime and bust their butts getting to the polls in November on his behalf.

Specter's Democratic opponent this fall is Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel, little known outside of Pennsylvania and maybe not all that well known inside Pennsylvania. Nobody's giving him much of a shot at defeating Specter, but there's a chance that the Specter/Toomey primary will give Hoeffel the boost he needs.

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