Michael Barone makes a typically brilliant point looking forward to 2010:
[I]f I were a conservative cheerleader against the Obama/Pelosi stimulus package, I would be concentrating less of my fire against the three Republicans who supported the Senate version and more on Democratic members of the House and (at least those who are up for reelection in 2010) the Senate.
Given all the talk on the right the past few days, I must go on the record AGAINST a primary challenge to Arlen Specter. My reason is simple: Arlen Specter is the only Republican who's won Statewide in Pennsylvania at the Federal Level since 2001. More specifically, he knows how to win in the Philly suburbs. As Chris Palko has blogged about on this site, Republicans have gotten killed in the Philly 'burbs for the past decade.
A little background: I supported Pat Toomey in 2004. In 2004, Republicans had a (reasonably) popular President, control of the U.S. House, and VERY narrow control of the U.S. Senate; under those circumstances, it made sense to replace a Liberal Republican with a Conservative Republican. There was good reason to believe that whoever won the Republican Primary would cruise to victory in the General Election. As a state with a Democrat Governor and a Republican State Senate, Pennsylvanians are well known ticket splitters.
In 2010, Republicans will only have 41 Senators. While the President's popularity heading into the election cannot be known, Conservatives should prepare for the worst. Republicans shouldn't risk a perfectly good Senate seat when a much smarter alternative exists. Whatever Specter's flaws, a liberal Republican is better than a Democrat.
And what, pray tell, is the Alternative?
That one's simple.
Let's Beat Democrats!
More Specifically, there are 5 (actually 10) Senate seats currently held by DEMOCRATS that we should aggressively target before we counterproductively cannibalize our own.
1) Indiana - While Obama eeked out McCain in this state in 2008, it's historically been a GOP stronghold. As such, Indiana will be Ground Zero of any backlash against President Obama's economic policies; Evan Bayh will not be able to hide his vote(s) . If Mike Pence runs for the Seat, so much the better.
2) Wisconsin - While Obama won this state solidly in 2008, it has a history of electing Republicans and Bush almost won it in 2004. The Incumbent, Russ Feingold, is a far left kook who teamed up with John McCain for one of the all time great legislative assaults on the Constitution. If Congressman Paul Ryan or Former Governor Thompson could pick up this seat, they would do the nation a great service.
3) North Dakota - This is a state that consistently votes Republican at the Presidential and Gubenatorial Levels yet elects borderline Bolsheviks to the U.S. Senate. Well, the Radicals Have Taken Over and they just got their way on economic policy. Byron Dorgan will own the results of President Obama's economic policy. Most of the statewide offices (at the state level) are held by Republicans.
4) Arkansas - This state was one of the few bright spots for the GOP in 2008. Every county voted more Republican than 2004. Seats like these are the low hanging fruit of any future majority.
5) Nevada - President Obama just insulted Las Vegas. Harry Reid is President Obama's cheif Lieutenant in the Senate. Need I say more?
As you can see, pickup opportunities abound in seats currently held by Democrats. We can do more to influence the agenda in the Senate by picking up these seats than by going after one of our own. Primary Challenges are a luxury we cannot afford.
In case you would like to know why Arlen Specter deserves to stay in the Senate, I present the following three reasons:
1) The Surge -- In 2007, when the Democrats in Congress wanted to give up in Iraq, Senate Republicans rallied around President Bush and gave him enough breathing room to get the Surge off the Ground. Arlen Specter was one of those Senate Republicans.
2) John Roberts and Sam Alito -- As Judiciary Committee chairman, Specter did what was necesssary to get President Bush's Supreme Court nominees through the Senate. He'll do the same with any future Republican President.
3) Senator Chris Matthews -- I just can't handle that. No way. I can live with Arlen Specter if it prevents that.
I hope this helps.