by John Hawkins | May 4, 2009 10:56 am
There are plenty of rumors floating around that the GOP Establishment wants Tom Ridge or Jim Gerlach to get in the Pennsylvania primary to run against Pat Toomey.
Now, I don’t know how solid these rumors are nor do I know whether Ridge or Gerlach is seriously considering taking on Toomey. Moreover, it’s a free country and if Gerlach or Ridge decide to get into a Republican primary, so be it.
However, if there is a primary, let me give the Republicans in the Beltway the best piece of advice they’ve gotten in a long time: stay away from that primary like it is a glowing crater with radioactive ooze shooting out of it like a geyser.
I know that the Establishment thinks Ridge and Gerlach would have a better chance of beating Specter than Toomey does. Judging by the latest Quinnipiac polling numbers, they may very well be right. Moreover, although most of these guys don’t have the cahones to admit it, they also hate the Club for Growth with the heat of a thousand suns not only because they primary squishy Republicans, but because they hold the GOP’s feet to the fire on fiscal issues.
You see, a lot of these Country Club Republicans tend to view conservatives in flyover country as a bunch of easily led “mind numbed robots” who can get whipped up into a slack-jawed yokel frenzy by groups like the Club for Growth or NumbersUSA. So, the thinking goes, if it wasn’t for those darn groups, all the Republicans could just dole out pork, push for amnesty and open borders, and the yokels in the base would be fine with it. Of course, the problem with that sort of thinking is that if large numbers of conservatives didn’t agree with the Club for Growth, with NumbersUSA, with Rush Limbaugh, etc., etc., — then they would have no power at all. Their real political power springs from the fact that they do a good job of representing people interests — something that too often, couldn’t be said of the Republican Party over the last few years.
….Which brings us back to the Specter vs. Toomey fight — in 2004. In 2004, the GOP Establishment fought hard to get Arlen Specter elected and he managed to beat Toomey by 1.7% in the Republican primary. The rationale behind the Republican Party supporting a guy who has since switched to the Democratic Party over a rock solid conservative was that Toomey couldn’t win.
However, in 2004 Bush only lost Pennsylvania by 2 points and Specter killed his opponent, Joe Hoeffel, by a margin of 52% to 43% — and that was with Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates siphoning off 5% of the vote that probably would have gone to Toomey. In other words, today Pat Toomey would be a Pennsylvania senator and the GOP would have one more crucial vote had George Bush and the rest of the GOP Establishment decided not to intervene.
Fast forward to this year. Specter had very weak numbers. One Rasmussen poll even showed Specter up by only 3 points over Chris “Thrill up my leg” Matthews who has been talking about a run at the Pennsylvania Senate.
But, was there anyone in the GOP Establishment encouraging Tom Ridge or Jim Gerlach to run against Specter? Oh, no! Challenging a sitting Republican senator? That would be bad form! Plus, why waste all that money in a primary? Then Toomey gets in, Specter gets out and the new tune is, “Everybody get the conservative! Let’s have a primary fight!”
Now certainly, any private citizen or group can support anybody they like, but any Republican group or Republican member of Congress that comes out against Pat Toomey is essentially saying, “All you conservatives who want fiscal conservatism or think you should have a real say in what goes on up here, can drop dead and go straight to hell. It’s just like the immigration debate: We don’t care what you think, we don’t care what you want, we think you’re stupid. Just give us your money, give us your vote, and keep your mouth shut because your betters are talking.”
That’s the message any Republican member of Congress, the RNC, or the NRSC would be sending by getting involved in what would probably turn out to be a cataclysmically ugly, bloody primary.
If it happens, don’t say you weren’t warned before you stuck your leg in the bear trap and ended up left with a bloody stump.
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