Sen. John Cornyn says Republican Sen. Arlen Specter is the GOP’s “best bet” to keep his Pennsylvania Senate seat from falling into Democrats’ hands.
“As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections,” Cornyn wrote in a letter released by his office Tuesday, “it's clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania. I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”
Cornyn’s endorsement amounts to an admission that Republicans have enough to worry about without spending resources to try to oust one of their own.
“The political math for Republicans in 2010 is tough,” Cornyn’s letter acknowledged, pointing out that 19 of the 41 Republican Senate seats are up for grabs, compared to just 17 of the Democrats’ either 58 or 59 seats, depending on whether Al Franken is eventually seated as the Minnesota’s next senator as appears likely.
Complicating matters further: Six GOP senators are up for re-election in states Obama carried in 2008, while only two Senate Democrats face re-election in states carried by GOP Sen. John McCain.
As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn wants as many GOP senators as possible.
“I can't do that without Arlen Specter,” Cornyn wrote. “With him as our nominee, I can target our campaign resources toward beating Democrats and growing the Senate Republican conference.”
In his letter to GOP leaders in Pennsylvania, Cornyn says flatly he disagrees with Specter on many issues.
Specter was one of only three GOP senators to side with Democrats on the recent showdown over President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan.
Cornyn cited several instances, however, where Specter helped the Republican Party, including: His strong stance against the Employee Free Choice Act, known as “card check.” His opposition to efforts to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine that would hamstring talk radio. His support for both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts. His opposition to partial-birth abortion. And his support for the Second Amendments right to bear arms.
Specter is expected to face a tough primary challenge from Pat Toomey, the former head of Club for Growth, an organization that supports candidates who favor low taxes and limited government.
In a move widely seen as clearing the decks for a primary bid against Specter, Toomey announced Monday he would step down from running the club. The organization said Toomey was leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”
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