It’s a truism that when it comes to federal elected office, the campaign is never over. Once elected, it’s time to get started on the task of getting re-elected, and if you’re going to attempt to unseat an incumbent, you can’t start to early on that task either. But when it comes to the Pennsylvania US Senate seat currently occupied by Arlen Specter (R-PA), it’s already moving past the preparation stage.
The race picked up a measure of notoriety before we even closed the books on 2008 as MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews loudly pondered a run for the Democratic nomination to take on Specter. He opted instead to re-up with MSNBC. The situation remains for the Democrats remains unsettled, with only one campaign launched thus far according to CQ.com, that of Joe Torsells, who was an also ran in the primary to take on Specter back in 2004.
But another veteran of the 2004 election figures to be a big problem for Specter, and in fact is the target of Specter’s early advertising and public remarks. That is Pat Toomey, a former US Rep and an executive with conservative watchdog Club for Growth. He attacked and almost defeated the centrist Specter from the right in the 2004 primaries and plans to do so again this time. And although Specter may benefit from cross-over votes in a general election, he is said to doing poorly among registered Republicans at the moment, and in Pennsylvania, the primaries are only open to declared party members.
Specter is arguing that if Toomey wins, his position on the right of the ideological spectrum may open the seat to almost any viable Democratic candidate, citing the 18-point loss suffered by ultra-conservative incumbent Rick Santorum back in 2006.
RBR/TVBR observation: So far only Specter has reached for his wallet to advertise, but with 18 months to go before final general election votes are cast, you can bet that candidates in both parties will be following suit and national political groups will be pouring financial fuel on the fire.