Politics & Policy

GOP Spinal Implant for Senate

The Toomey-Specter face-off.

Are you sick and tired of seeing fake Republicans buckle under Democratic pressure, block vital reforms, and blow tax dollars as if they printed it themselves? If so, help Rep. Pat Toomey beat Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s April 27 GOP Senate primary.

Toomey, 42, is the genuine article. He’s a smart, telegenic free-marketeer with the guts to fight for great ideas. (Learn more at pattoomey.org.) Specter, conversely, could not be a bigger RINO (Republican in Name Only) if a giant horn suddenly sprang from his nose. It’s time for Toomey to nail this RINO trophy to the wall.

As Allentown’s Toomey has said, “I just represent the Republican wing of the Republican party.” Philadelphia’s Specter, 74, is a statist who has voted 70 percent of the time in 2002 with someone the independent National Journal recently ranked “the No. 1 Senate liberal” — John Kerry (D., Mass.).

Toomey and Specter are yin and yang:

‐ Citizens Against Government Waste named Specter its 2003 “Porker of the Year.” He larded that April’s War Supplemental Appropriation with language to allow senators to mass-mail more constituents at taxpayer expense. When CAGW included the four-term senator in its “Pig Book” of Washington spendthrifts, he replied: “If they left me out, I would be worried.” Last year, the pork-intolerant Toomey earned a CAGW rating of 95 to Specter’s 41.

‐ Specter helped Democrats chop President Bush’s 2001 tax-cut by $448 billion before finally endorsing it. He voted eight times against tax cuts since 1995. Toomey, meanwhile, never has voted to raise taxes and has earned a lifetime “A” grade from the National Taxpayers Union versus Specter’s C. NTU’s “Bill Tally” system calculates that legislation Toomey sponsored or cosponsored this Congress would cost $1.52 billion annually. Specter’s equivalent figure is $39.25 billion.

‐ Specter scuttled vouchers for Washington, D.C.’s embattled public-school students last year, as Toomey promoted them. (They eventually passed within an omnibus spending bill.) While Specter supported the disastrous Medicare drug benefit, Toomey led a nearly successful campaign by 25 House Republicans to derail it last November. Such policies justify Toomey’s 97-percent lifetime American Conservative Union rating versus Specter’s 42.

‐ While Toomey voted to impeach President Clinton, Specter invoked Scottish law, of all things, and voted “Not proven” as Clinton’s February 1999 Senate trial climaxed.

Specter’s liberalism even has bought labor’s loyalty. Richard Scardelletti, president of the pro-Kerry Transportation Communications International Union, has urged his 3,800 members to reregister and vote Specter. “You can switch from Democrat to Republican temporarily and then switch right back after the primary,” Scardelletti explained in a March 15 letter that contained registration instructions from Specter’s campaign.

As Specter grows desperate, Toomey has narrowed a once-daunting polling deficit. An April 3-5 Survey USA study of 490 adults “certain to vote” showed Specter leading Toomey 46 percent to 40. (Error margin: 4.5 percent.)

President Reagan’s attorney general, Ed Meese, publisher Steve Forbes, and 16 GOP House members, and 18 Pennsylvania state representatives have endorsed Toomey. Specter’s team, to his credit, features President Bush and fellow Pennsylvania Republican senator Rick Santorum. Specter’s supporters claim he can keep his seat while “too conservative” Toomey would lose it to Democrats.

But Specterites forget that Democrat-rich Pennsylvania keeps electing Santorum, a high-profile conservative. As the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley noted April 5, Al Gore beat Bush 51 percent to 46 in Pennsylvania in 2000, while Santorum won 52 percent to Democrat Ron Klink’s 46. Toomey also satisfies Democratic ticket splitters. The same day Gore captured Toomey’s district 49 percent to Bush’s 48, Toomey sank well-funded Democrat Ed O’Brien 53 percent to 47. Toomey, whose district is 48 percent Dem to 37 percent GOP, has won three consecutive House terms by attracting, but not impersonating, Democrats.

“A Toomey win would energize the base” — Forbes says — to the president’s advantage. “With Toomey…Bush has a much better chance to carry Pennsylvania than if Specter is on the ticket.”

Toomey’s victory also would warn RINOs: If they keep sabotaging free-market and Republican principles, those who value ideology over incumbency will stop tolerating them. Instead, GOP candidates who favor limited government will challenge these “diet-Democrats” and — with assistance from like-minded primary voters — extract them from Washington. Thus, even before he arrives, Pat Toomey could become the spinal implant the Republican Senate so badly needs.

“Write checks” until then, Forbes urges free-marketeers across America. “Specter will outspend him probably five- or six-to-one. But if Pat Toomey just gets enough resources to get his message out, he will win.” The former GOP presidential candidate (for whom I was a communications consultant) also suggests reaching out and touching someone: “If you have friends or relatives in Pennsylvania, tell them to vote on primary day.”

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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