March 2nd, 2009
03:26 PM ET
14 years ago

Toomey hints at new Specter challenge

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Specter may face a tough primary battle."](CNN) - Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, who has been critical of Sen. Arlen Specter's support for President Obama's stimulus plan, appears to be inching closer to a primary re-match against the Republican incumbent.

"As this disastrous recession worsens, I have become increasingly concerned about the future of our state and national economy," he said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "Unfortunately, the recent extraordinary response of the federal government - more corporate bailouts, unprecedented spending and debt, higher taxes - is likely to make things worse. I think we are on a dangerously wrong path. Pennsylvanians want a US Senator focused on real and sustainable job creation that gets our economy growing again. That is why I am considering becoming a candidate for the US Senate."

In 2004, Specter survived a tough challenge from then-Rep. Toomey, beating him by less than 2 percentage points thanks to support from President Bush and then-Sen. Rick Santorum. Toomey has been hinting at a 2010 Senate bid for months, calling Specter far more vulnerable than he was four years ago, but has not said when he might make an official announcement.

The National Republican Trust PAC has already said it will back primary challengers to any Republican senator who supported the stimulus. Specter was one of three GOP senator's to vote in favor of the proposal - but the only one up for re-election next year.

A survey last month suggested the Pennsylvania senator could be in for a bruising re-election battle. Registered voters in Pennsylvania questioned in a Quinnipiac University poll were split on whether he deserved to be re-elected, with 43 percent saying he did not deserve to hold on to his job to just 40 percent who said he did. And Specter's 55 percent approval rating from members of his own party was 7 points lower than his marks from Pennsylvania Democrats.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele seemed to hint last week that the national party might support primary season challengers if incumbents lacked support from GOP leadership in their own state, though he quickly played down the remarks.

“…It’s just like anything. When the state party says, ‘We’re going to endorse a candidate and support that candidate,’ the RNC is behind them. When the state party says, ‘We have a problem with that candidate,’ so does the RNC,” he said.

In a letter to constituents several weeks ago, Specter acknowledged conservative anger over his stimulus vote.

"My vote was cast recognizing the very substantial political peril that I face," he wrote. "I know that there are many on the Republican political spectrum who do not like the vote. I remember, obviously, the tough primary fight I had in the year 2004. But I felt in the final analysis, given the very severe consequences which might befall the country, that my duty was to look out for the public interest and not my own personal political interest."

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Pat Toomey • Pennsylvania
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Steve from Florida

    Arlen is a loser and will do anything to retain hs seat....look how he kissed up to Bush to keep his chaimanship!

    March 2, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. alvin

    Well said sir.

    March 2, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. bsmith171

    spector is a loon!

    March 2, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. Steve, New York City

    Go Specter!!! Toomey – no (the GOP needs at least a few moderates)!

    March 2, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  5. Jillie

    Toomey is just another Republican IDIOT.

    March 2, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. texas teacher

    He better switch politics... that is the only chance he has that I can see! 🙂

    March 2, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. Kevin in Ohio

    Has anyone looked at a map lately? The Northeast part of the country has a virtual democrat monopoly on the Senate, and the last thing we need is for a turncoat like Spector (and the two Maine Senators) to tighten the grip on this malignant cancer.

    March 2, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Charles from Atlanta

    Well, it doesn't matter, any GOP other than Specter will not get elected anyway. And many people vote for Democrats like Specter. So Specter still has better chance for GOP. But, hey, GOP wants to blame the disaster to Democrats, so anybody working with Obama will get kicked out.

    March 2, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. get rid of campbell brown

    i've always admired specter as a republican with a clear understanding that he represents the people of pennsylvania first and the republican party second. i would hate to see him loose, but based on the way the repubs are bent on cannibalism these days, he may just become a victim of the feeding frenzy...oh well, i guess the dems should be ready to pick up another senate seat if toomey beats specter in the primary

    March 2, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  10. Independant Thinker

    Good, We need to get rid of that RHINO Specter.

    And Specter is a RHINO on many fronts.

    March 2, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  11. R in Maine

    Like any wild animals, they eat their wounded and injured.

    March 2, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. Obama 2.0

    The majority of people know Spectar and support his decisoin t DO something and not just lay there and say NO. He helped to bring the bill into shape. Unlike the ubstructionist that are only concerned about their own wallet at the expense of the majority of Americans.

    March 2, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  13. simmy

    If Republicans vote him out, they deserve no representation in his state.

    March 2, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. Kent

    So the GOP wants to give up another Senate seat by going after one of their own?

    March 3, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |