The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, February 17, 2004  

I Think If You Poke Him
You’ll See That He’s Done

The reelection campaign of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is underway. Specter filed the necessary papers with the state election commission (See John Baer’s excellent column in today’s Philadelphia Daily News, “Abstinence Lands on Arlen’s Agenda”), and his campaign is running its first television advertisements, prepared not in anticipation of the general election, but ahead of the Republican party primary challenge from Rep. Patrick Toomey.

I haven’t seen the ad, but the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday published one of its brief “Ad Watch” pieces summarizing and analyzing the spot:

Images and words: Pennsylvania’s other senator, Rick Santorum, faces the camera and says: “I’ve heard people say that they think Arlen Specter is a liberal. But let me tell you as a member of the Senate leadership, Arlen Specter was the key vote, not just in supporting the President’s tax plan that created jobs that has revived this economy, but in getting the votes necessary to make that passage possible. Arlen is with us on the votes that matter to move our agenda forward for this president and for the country. I am proud to endorse Arlen Specter.”

Specter is briefly shown with the President, and the words “Arlen Specter cast the deciding vote for the Bush tax cut” appear.

Analysis: It is not clear in which Bush tax cut Specter played a decisive role. A spokesman says it was the May 21, 2003, passage of a 10-year $350 billion cut that passed the Senate 50-50, with Vice President [Richard] Cheney’s breaking the tie. Any of those on the winning side could have been said to have cast the deciding vote.

Wow. Slow start. Unimpressive.

Should he win the party primary, Specter in November still will face a very strong challenge from Rep. Joseph Hoeffel (D).

Hoeffel’s campaign received an added boost this week when it brought on staff Philadelphia attorney and blogger Adam Bonin.

Bonin writes:

This is a Democratic state -- our governor is a Democrat, our largest cities are run by Democrats, and we voted Democratic in the last three Presidential elections. It’s about time our Senate delegation reflected these trends, and the polling suggests that as more voters learn who Joe Hoeffel is, we will. Arlen Specter is vulnerable, and we can beat him.

And Bonin reminds everyone, Pennsylvanians or not, that defeating Specter is going to take money, and plenty of it. So please add Joe Hoeffel to your list of very worthy causes this year. You can donate on line or you can download the contribution form at the same site and then mail a check to Hoeffel for Senate, 1528 Walnut St., Suite 950, Philadelphia, Pa., 19102.

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