The poll numbers don't show it quite yet, but the GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania will sport real fireworks. And ultimately, I'm predicting, über-conservative challenger Pat Toomey will take out "moderate" senator Arlen Specter.
Toomey is building a solid grassroots army, drawing heavily from PA's motivated conservative community. And bigwigs in the conservative community are starting to lend their support.
Three heavyweight conservatives have enlisted with the campaign of Rep. Pat Toomey as he seeks to oust incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's bare-knuckles Republican primary.
Former federal appeals judge Robert H. Bork -- whose 1987 U.S. Supreme Court nomination was thwarted, in part, by Specter -- said Monday that his endorsement stems mainly from fear that Pennsylvania's senior senator will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year if he wins re-election.
Bork will formally endorse Toomey at a Pittsburgh fund-raiser Wednesday, the eve of Specter's planned statewide two-day campaign tour. In the next six weeks, 2000 presidential hopeful Steve Forbes and former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III also are expected to headline Toomey fund-raisers in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
One of the wild-cards this race is whether the conservative Santorum will lend Specter solid support. As the standard-beared of PA's wingnut community, he will be closely watched this election. There's no way he'll openly endorse Toomey, but he can do almost as much damage to Specter by simply remaining "neutral".
And the party's right wing is worried about Specter winning another term -- he's in line to take over the chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee, and Specter is not the partisan that Orin Hatch is. (Not to mention that Specter helped kill Bork's Supreme Court aspirations.) They will be going for broke in an effort to push Toomey over the edge.
And given the partisan makeup of the primary electorate, Specter will have trouble fending off Toomey's more motivated, more committed supporters.
This primary battle has particular significance for Democrats. While Specter can cruise to reelection against the Dems' Joe Hoeffel, Toomey would face our guy without the advantages of incumbency and with an agenda that is to the right of the state.