Toomey Time in Pennsylvania
Former Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Toomey made his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter official today, accusing the incumbent of being "complicit" in an effort by President Barack Obama and Congress to steer the country far to the ideological left.
"This is the most liberal president in the history of the Republic at a time when a liberal Congress is pursuing an agenda to take America way left on economic policy," said Toomey in an interview this afternoon with the Fix. "We need someone who is going to stand up and fight back."
Toomey cited the "lurch to the left" by the Obama Administration as well as Specter's vote in support of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan as the main motivators in pushing him into the Senate race. (He had also been actively mulling a run for the open governor's seat in 2010.)
He also insisted that much had changed since six years ago when he came from nowhere to within 17,000 votes (out of more than one million cast) of beating Specter. Not only do Democrats control all levers of power in Washington but Specter's standing has been significantly weakened as well, according to Toomey.
"Senator Specter is in a much more vulnerable position," said Toomey. "After 30 years in office, he has overstayed his welcome and betrayed Republicans too many times."
Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas matched Toomey's verbal ferocity when asked for comment about the former Congressman's candidacy -- painting a Toomey primary win as a Democratic dream scenario.
"Without Senator Specter's seat in the Senate, which Mr. Toomey would certainly lose, there would no longer be 41 Republican Senators to filibuster and stop the Democrats from passing card check, raising taxes, and implementing President Obama's massive spending plans," said Nicholas.
He added that Toomey was "farther to the right" than former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) who spent better than $30 million only to lose to Sen. Bob Casey (D) by 18 points in 2006.
Toomey countered that he would actually make a stronger general election candidate -- noting his three victories in the swing 15th congressional district and the near-certainty that if Specter won the primary he would face a conservative third party candidate (Toomey himself?) in the fall election.
In case you might have missed it, these two politicians REALLY don't like one another. (We can't emphasize that strongly enough.) This race -- without question the marquee primary in the country in 2010 -- is going to be an absolute bloodbath. And, we will be there every step of the way.
April 15, 2009; 4:30 PM ET
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