A repeat challenger for Specter


A poll was released last weekend showing Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) — the only Jewish Republican in the Senate pending an outcome of the Franken-Coleman case — will be extremely vulnerable to a Republican primary challenger next year. And just days later, he apparently has a  serious primary challenge.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Saturday that a poll found more than half of Pennsylvanians, and two-thirds of Republicans — want a new face representing them in the U.S. Senate:

Asked whether they think Specter, a Philadelphia Republican, has done his job well enough to win re-election or whether they’d prefer a "new person" in that job, registered voters by a 53-38 percent margin said it’s time to give someone else a chance, according to the poll by Susquehanna Polling and Research. Eight percent were undecided.

The numbers might reflect Specter’s vote as one of three Republican senators who enabled passage of President Obama’s $787 billion federal stimulus package, said James Lee, president of Harrisburg-based Susquehanna polling. But they reflect long-standing dissatisfaction among Republican conservatives with Specter’s record, he said.

If the election were held today, "in a two-person race, Specter is toast" if his challenger is a credible candidate, Lee said. A race with more candidates likely would improve Specter’s chances of winning.

"The senator never comments on polls," said Specter spokeswoman Kate Kelly. "There is only one that counts."

The poll surveyed 700 registered voters from Monday through Thursday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Among registered Republicans, 66 percent favored a new senator and 26 percent backed Specter. The margin of error on that question was plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.

That article reported that former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, who narrowly lost a primary challenge to Specter in 2004, was considering a run for governor. But The Hill on Thursday said he’s decided to challenge the 29-year incumbent again:

Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in a primary for the second straight cycle, according to Pennsylvania GOP sources.

The Allentown Morning Call reported Thursday that two friends of Toomey’s have said the Club for Growth chief has decided to enter the race. …

The paper quotes Richard Thulin, leader of the Lehigh Valley Republican Network, saying in an e-mail to supporters that "Pat’s formal announcement will be forthcoming.

"Interesting news," he wrote. "Pat Toomey asked me to let you know that he has decided to challenge Arlen Specter."

As for who might challenge Specter from the Democratic side, the Tribune-Review notes two Jewish Democrats, Pa. Rep. Josh Shapiro and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, as possibilities.

Recommended from JTA