April 28, 2004


Specter ekes out win in Pa. Senate race (AP, 4/27/04)

Moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter beat back a tough primary threat, barely defeating a conservative congressman who lacked support from party leaders but gained momentum by casting the four-term incumbent as too liberal.

The full-moon Right takes one on the chin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2004 8:07 AM

I'm not a "full-moon GOP" but was hoping Toomey would win given that Specter is easily the most liberal GOP senator.
I can understand why Bush and the rest of the GOP establishment backed Specter. Bush's support alone probably made the difference in the race (15,000 vote margin).
And I reserve the right to be annoyed as Specter continues to vote against tax cuts, pro-life bills, school vouchers, and as Chairman of the judiciary committee allows the Dems to continue to thwart GOP nominated judges.

Posted by: AWW at April 28, 2004 8:34 AM

Tell me the difference between Specter and a Dem. I defy you. Organizing the caucus? We won't need him in the worst-case scenario, and the likely scenarios make him superfluous. (Anyway, Specter is ruthless enough to jump sides -- he did so many moons ago in a fit of spite -- if he thinks it serves him better.) Breaking a filibuster on a conservative judge? Does the name "Bork" mean anything to you? Voting for tax cuts? Only when he's up for reelection -- which he'll never be again. Abortion? Don't make me laugh.

I am not one to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. But this was a case of letting the good be the enemy of the lousy.

Posted by: Chris at April 28, 2004 8:41 AM

Oh, wait, I bet I know: Ruthless support for every initiative Bush sends down the pike? Right?

Posted by: Chris at April 28, 2004 8:42 AM

If Pat Toomey is the full-moon right, then Orrin Judd is orbiting Europa.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 28, 2004 8:42 AM


He's not, the Stephen Moore-type whackjobs are.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 8:47 AM


The caucus matters and he won the seat and held it when other Republicans might not have. Loyalty to members of your party is never a negative.

From Bush's perspective, recall that this means political activisats of the Left won't spend much effort in PA now, guaranteeing that he wins it over Kerry.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 8:51 AM

OJ is correct. You "move on" and support Spector totally. (hold your nose, if you have to)

But it is painful that "Conservatives" as opposed to mere Republicans have to depend on Spector and Hatch for help in reforming the Judicial Branch of Govt. Vouchers also might suffer a setback.

I secretly hope that Republicans can get 61 seats and quietly or loudly dump Spector literally or figuratively.

Posted by: h-man at April 28, 2004 9:48 AM

History no doubt has a major role in what Bush and his advisors did in Pennsylvania. They certainly remember 1991, when Harris Wofford was able to upset Dick Thornburgh in the race for the Senate seat held by Terea's Kerry's late husband. The media made that race into a national contest, and hailed the results as portending a major shift to the Democrats and away from Bush Sr. That turned out to be the case in 1992 (the annoyingly-dubbed "Year of the Woman"), and Wofford's political plank during the '91 campaign almost turned into "Hillarycare" in 1994.

Specter's certainly done his share of annoying things to Republicans over the years, but the 1991-92 results have to be factored into the equasion (even if the state's voters bounced Wofford for Santorum in 1994). Whether or not Arlen's nomiation turns off Pennsylvania's conservative voters into going to the polls at all come November remains to be seen.

Posted by: John at April 28, 2004 10:01 AM


If they don't turn out to vote for Bush they aren't conservatives.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 10:09 AM

Dr. Keith Poole usually has Specter ranked behind Chaffee. I think that Bush's political calculation is fairly easy. He did not want to give up the advantage of incumbency in a key state. I am also sure that Specter agreed to campaign vigororusly for the party in November and to to the line on important votes in the future.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 28, 2004 10:52 AM

Amazing. The silence is deafening. Specter won because of, inter alia, the NRA endorsement. Every NRA member in Pennsylvania (and there are a lot of us) received a 2-page supplement to the monthly NRA magazine shortly before the primary giving strong reasons for supporting Specter. Toomey's O.K. it said, but Specter's been with us for 20+ years and his seniority gives him clout.
Just because the NRA has won the gun war doesn't mean that we are no longer a force to be reconned with. OTC, the endorsement of Specter was brilliant: it made the difference, and it concentrates the minds of any Republicans who might think they no longer need us. Guns trump everything. I'll do what I can to save the unborn when I can, but once they take my AK, it's gone.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 28, 2004 11:26 AM

What Specter's victory means is that Bush's first Supreme Court nominee will be Al Gonzalez. Conservatives will be told by the White House that they couldn't get Miguel Estrada past Specter, who becomes Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the next Congress. (Hatch is term limited.)

Posted by: Dan at April 28, 2004 11:28 AM

Funny thing. Specter's been getting more conservative. His lifetime ACU rating is 43, but he scored a 50 in 2002 and a 65 in 2003.

Generally, Specter has gotten middle-of-the-road, wishy-washy ratings from both the ADA and the ACU. That's fine with me because I'm a wishy-washy middle-of-the-roader myself. But both organizations show him turning right over the past few years.

Will he move even further to the right because of his near-political-death experience? Wouldn't amaze me.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 28, 2004 2:12 PM


That's most likely the pressure of the caucus and a GOP president, which will only be exacerbated in a 60-40 body under the second Bush term.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 2:17 PM

Oh, should have given the ADA ratings for Specter. The last two years put him pretty far right: 35 in 2002, 25 in 2003. Couldn't find updated lifetime ADA ratings, but he's probably around 50 by now.

If this guy is a liberal, he's doing a real good job of fooling everybody over the past couple years.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 28, 2004 2:18 PM

Any chance he made a deal with Bush to support his judicial nominees?

Posted by: Jana at April 28, 2004 4:41 PM

I hope OJ's right. A 60-40 Senate would make Specter pretty superfluous.

As it stands right now, however, I'm not so sure having Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee is any better than having a Democrat hold Specter's Senate seat and having some other Republican chair the Judiciary Committee.

I hope conservatives understand that, should the Senate prove to have some composition less exciting to the right than 60-40, Specter is going to be a world-class pain in the neck. Qualified conservative judges can kiss their SCOTUS hopes goodbye.

Posted by: Matt at April 28, 2004 6:50 PM

Specter voted for Estrada, so I don't know why he would suddenly be the death knell for any conservative judge nominated to the Supreme Court. The Estada vote, by the way, helped him to that 65% ACU rating in 2003.

Personally, I'm not thrilled about some of Bush's way-right nominees, so I wouldn't mind Specter opposing a few of them. But his recent voting record doesn't indicate that he would be very opposed at all to any of Bush's nominees, assuming a second term.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 29, 2004 1:08 PM