The Rittenhouse Review

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

Sunday, April 18, 2004  

In the Republican Primary

In “Stick With Specter” in today’s paper, the editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s April 27 Republican primary, an election in which Specter, 72, faces an increasingly strong challenge from conservative U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey.

A few excerpts:

To admirers, Specter is moderate, pragmatic and effective. He’ll seek allies wherever he can find them; one day he’ll cast a staunch conservative vote to cut taxes, and the next break with the party to support, say, funding for stem-cell research.

To critics, he’s unprincipled and unreliable. The sense among party conservatives that he’s strayed from the fold too often has fostered a serious primary challenge from . . . Toomey, 42, a former investment banker and restaurateur. […]

The state benefits from a well-positioned, senior senator who can drive federal dollars back home for vital purposes such as medical and biotech research in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and smart mass transit projects such as the Schuylkill Valley Metro. […]

Yes, Specter’s personality has some rough edges; his voting record includes flip-flops that are hard to explain. […]

Toomey would give the party a candidate who is an ideological clone (albeit a more amiable one) of junior Sen. Rick Santorum. Pennsylvanians deserve broader representation.

Specter is in a long, distinguished [Sic!] line of moderate GOP senators from Pennsylvania. The party’s voters can honor and continue that tradition by picking Arlen Specter.

That’s all fine, I suppose, for the primary, but I hope it’s not an omen for the November election. Then the clear choice, regardless of whether Sen. Specter or Rep. Toomey wins the Republican primary, and because as the Inquirer editors say, “Pennsylvanians deserve broader representation” -- much broader, in fact -- is Democrat Rep. Joe Hoeffel.

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