Thursday, April 30, 2009


Could there be chaos? Well, maybe. Start with this:

NRSC Vice-Chairman Orrin Hatch said today that he doesn't believe former Congressman Pat Toomey has a chance to beat newly turned Democrat Arlen Specter in next year's Senate race in Pennsylvania. Hatch even suggested that the NRSC may seek to recruit a candidate to run against Toomey....

In fact, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested a name today that has been thrown around in political circles since Specter's defection -- Tom Ridge....

From a purely political standpoint, that would seem like a shrewd move -- Ridge is nationally known and has apparently been well-liked in Pennsylvania.

But in the Limbaughized, tea-partied, death-before-incorrectness modern GOP, can the pro-choice, middle-of-the-road Ridge even win a primary against Toomey? And is there really any chance that Toomey would step aside if asked by the national party bosses? Wouldn't he just dig in his heels and become a nationwide GOP folk hero, a symbol of pitchfork-wielding defiance?

Meanwhile, even as we're being told by the GOP hard core that Arlen Specter was never really a Republican, the party is putting out robocalls that try to disillusion Democratic voters by saying that he was so a Republican:

ANNOUNCER: (Disclaimer) Hello, this is Jack. I've recorded this message on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee located at 425 2nd St, Washington, DC or 202-675-4260 to help you welcome your newest Democrat Senator, Arlen Specter.

We wanted to make sure that we properly introduced him to you. Former President George W. Bush said this about Arlen Specter.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm here to say it as plainly as I can, Arlen Specter is the right man for the United States Senate. I can count on this man - see that's important. He's a firm ally when it matters most. I'm proud to tell you I think he's earned another term as the United States Senator....

If this is the beginning of a campaign to weaken Specter as a Democratic primary candidate, I'm not sure it's going to work -- as I've said, I think Specter is far too popular among Democrats (71%-16% favorable-unfavorable, according to Quinnipiac) to lose the Democratic nomination. And if the Republicans use pro-Specter soundbites from Bush, Specter can always counter with anti-Specter soundbites from Limbaugh.

But what if Specter does lose a primary? It'd be an ugly, bruising, expensive primary -- but isn't Pennsylvania blue enough that a genuine Democrat could win? Especially against Pat Toomey, who, as I've said, is probably too pure to be defeated in a primary even by Tom Ridge?

Stay tuned....

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