Two Republican senators may be endangered by attacks from within their own party. One is in the year-in year-out battleground state of Pennsylvania where a strong Democratic push is a fact of life; the other is in solidly-Republican Kentucky.
Arlen Specter (R-PA) was one of three Republican senators, along with two from Maine, who voted to pass Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package. That has led to off-again on-again discussion by new RNC Chairman Michael Steele regarding financial support for re-election campaigns for the threesome, and although neither Olympia Snowe (R-ME) nor Susan Collins (R-ME) is up for reelection in the 2010 cycle, Specter is. And we now know that the for Club for Growth exec who almost brought Specter down in a 2004 primary – for Rep. Pat Toomey – is gearing up for another challenge. According to Talkingpointsmemo.com, recent polls from Susquehanna show that two thirds of PA Republicans are ready for a new standard-bearer, as opposed to only about a fourth who want him to run again. Some think that Democrats would have a much easier time wresting the seat from Toomey than it would from the tenacious centrist Specter.
In Kentucky, Jim Bunning (R-KY) had a difficult time against a Democratic challenger in 2004 despite running in a solidly blue state and with very long coattails provided by George W. Bush. Republicans fear he may not survive the next time around and believe he is underfunded. According to numerous reports, efforts to ease him into retirement have only caused Bunning to fire back at his own party, going so far as to threaten to sue his colleagues or resign and allow a Democratic governor to select a replacement before 2010.
RBR/TVBR observation: For broadcasters, a hotly-contested primary in what figures to be a hotly-contested general election is nothing less than the promise of a second political windfall. Regardless of your personal politics, if you handle sales at a station in Pennsylvania and Kentucky it will be worth your while to stay on top of senate race developments and make sure each candidate’s media operatives know what your station can do for them.