Specter gets a primary challenge

Pat Toomey, a conservative former congressman, is coming after the Pennsylvania senator, who's in real trouble.

Published April 15, 2009 2:30PM (EDT)

It's been an open secret for some time now that former Rep. Pat Toomey was going to mount a primary challenge against his fellow Pennsylvania Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter. But Toomey made it official on Wednesday, and began his campaign with an attack on the incumbent's right flank.

"For 30 years, Sen. Specter has consistently voted for increased government spending and a liberal agenda on social, labor, immigration and national security policies,” Toomey said, according to The Hill. “In recent months, Sen. Specter voted in favor of the unprecedented Wall Street and auto company bailouts and the massive ‘stimulus’ spending bill. Sen. Specter is on the wrong side of these critical issues and Pennsylvanians will pay the price.”

Toomey came close to unseating Specter in 2004, when he lost to the senator in the Republican primary by just two percentage points. Recent polls have shown the former congressman in the lead this time. It's still early, of course, and it's likely that Specter will, at the very least, be able to pull closer but given the constriction of the GOP down to its base and the opposition to the stimulus within the party, he's going to have a rough time. Plus, in order to survive the primary, he'll have to tack to the right, which will hurt him in the general election, if he makes it that far.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2010 Elections Arlen Specter D-pa. Pat Toomey