Pat Toomey, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, tells NRO that his opponent, Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), is a “perfectly unprincipled man.” Specter may also be a worried man, following the release of a new Rasmussen poll.
Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat, trails Toomey by five points nearly a year before the election. Toomey, however, is not Specter’s only headache. Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) is running dead-even with Specter in the run-up to their party’s primary. In the money primary, Specter’s pockets are bulging, with $8.7 million in cash compared to Sestak’s $4.7 million. Toomey raised more than $1.5 million in the recent quarter, bringing his total to more than $3 million.
Toomey may find Specter unseemly, but his best match-up may be against the wily incumbent rather than the lesser-known Sestak. According to Rasmussen, if Sestak wins the Democratic nomination, the race would be a toss-up, 38 percent for Sestak and 37 percent for Toomey. Untroubled, Toomey tells NRO that Sestak is nothing more than an “ideologue running as a far-left liberal.”
Toomey, who flirted with running for governor earlier this year, acknowledges that his chances will be bolstered if the GOP nominates a strong gubernatorial candidate to be on the ballot with him in 2010. For now, Toomey says he’s staying out of the Republican primary between front-runner Tom Corbett, the state’s attorney general, and Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.). A Susquehanna Poll this week found Corbett leading Gerlach, 36 percent to 13 percent, with 50 percent of GOP voters undecided. “Tom Corbett starts out with a significant advantage,” says Toomey, “but Jim Gerlach is a strong candidate in his own right. However it turns out, both are good men and both would be great governors.”
The key issues for 2010, says Toomey, are beginning to emerge on the campaign trail. “There is great concern about the nationalization of the car companies and the massive and unprecedented spending programs at the federal level,” he says.
“I opposed the bailouts,” says Toomey. “I’m insisting that we institute some fiscal discipline. That message is really resonating now and it will resonate next year. People want to hear real solutions about how to get the economy moving again.”
“Pennsylvanians see the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill and all they see is a staggering amount of spending,” says Toomey. “I’m pushing for a significant reduction in payroll taxes. That would have an immediate and constructive impact on the economy. At the moment, we’re putting our companies and our workers at a competitive disadvantage. To fix that, we should lower the capital-gains tax-rate, which would increase the incentive to invest, start new businesses, and encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurial growth.”
“Ideas matter in this election,” says Toomey. “These ideas are resonating. We’ve seen a huge lurch to the left by the Democrats in Washington. Republicans have become bystanders as the Democrats raise taxes, the debt, and try to takeover health care. These are broad, sweeping changes. People are doing a double-take and saying ‘free enterprise is not a bad idea.’”
On foreign policy, Toomey outlined his views on Iranian sanctions yesterday on The Corner. “I’ve been trying to draw attention to the fact that we have enormous bipartisan support for the toughest economic sanctions on Iran, right now,” says Toomey. “Iran has made it abundantly clear that they want nuclear weapons. Frankly, we’re dealing with a very dangerous regime. We can’t continue this dance, saying that one day in the future we’ll get tough about sanctions.”
Toomey is also gaining national support for his campaign. Earlier this week, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney endorsed Toomey in Philadelphia. “This is obviously a race that the entire nation cares about,” said Romney. “The Senate is critical, but Pennsylvania is a very big state with a lot of clout, and having a voice of conservatism that does not believe in raising taxes or spending money we don’t have or having government take over health care is very important to the entire nation.” Romney has since pledged to come back to the Keystone State to campaign with Toomey.
Specter, of course, should not be counted out. NRO was at the University of Pennsylvania last Friday when Specter went looking for some magic and found it, in an endorsement from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers great.