Tags: NRSC | toomey | gerlach

Are GOP Senators Ditching Toomey for Gerlach in Pa.?

Friday, 01 May 2009 02:41 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is reportedly now backing Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., to run for the U.S. Senate in the race that has broken wide open since Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democratic Party, according to a report in Politico.

Meanwhile, reports Politico, former U.S. Representative Pat Toomey, who was gearing up to run against Specter for the Republican nomination before Specter bailed from the party has fallen back a few notches – since he is seen by some in the Pennsylvania GOP as unelectable against Specter in the general election.

Gerlach, a four-term moderate from southeastern Pennsylvania, had been aiming to run for governor in 2010, according to the National Journal.

Although NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh denies that the party is actively recruiting Gerlach, a spokesman for Gerlach, a four-term Congressman, said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, called Gerlach this week to discuss a Senate campaign, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Gerlach spokesman Mark Campbell said party officials were “very interested,” in a Gerlach Senate candidacy.

Furthermore, Campbell said Gerlach - whom he describes as a fiscally conservative centrist Republican - is considering it.

“The congressman's decision is not going to be based on political opportunity, but on what he believes is best for the party. He believes the Republican Party needs to go back to being the party of John Heinz and Ronald Reagan,” Campbell said, according to the Tribune-Review.

Specter said he switched parties after polls showed him trailing Toomey in the primary race.

Despite Campbell’s representations, however, the NRSC’s Walsh told Politico: “His recollection of that conversation [with Cornyn] is inaccurate. We’re going to let the process play out and let the voters of Pennsylvania decide.”

Meanwhile, the vice chairman of the NRSC, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has gone on the record, saying, “There is anybody in the world who believes [Toomey] can get elected senator there.”

Cornyn told Politico that it is “too early to endorse” and he hadn’t decided whether to back Toomey or consider other candidates.

Some GOP players are pushing state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who also serves as lieutenant governor, to run for the Senate seat.

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