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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, March 16, 2009

Specter Wants An Open Primary

Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee, is reportedly trying to persuade the Pennsylvania legislature to change to open primaries, so Democrats will be able to cross over and vote for him in the 2010 GOP primary. Failing that, he may switch to the Democratic Party.

Specter was a Democrat when he served as a lawyer for the Warren Commission. He switched to the Republicans and was elected Philadelphia district attorney in 1965 and 1969. After losing re-election in 1973, he lost two statewide Republican primaries before winning the 1980 GOP nomination for U. S. senator, 36% to 33% for his closest competitor. With the help of Ronald Reagan's presidential coattails, Specter defeated a weak Democrat, 50% to 48%, and has been in the Senate ever since. He, of course, was one of only three Republicans there to vote for the $787 billion "stimulus" bill.

"This is exactly what the Pennsylvania Republican Party deserves for years of throwing money and support to Arlen Specter despite how much he has worked against the Republican agenda. Apparently the thought of having to face Pat Toomey again, whom he only beat by a mere 12,000 votes last time, has put the fear of God in him."

As I recall, several thousand labor union members changed their registrations from Democrat to Republican in order to vote in the 2004 GOP primary for Specter over Congressman Toomey, who now heads the Club for Growth. Both President Bush and Senator Rick Santorum endorsed Specter in the primary, which he won, 51% to 49%.

"Specter already has one announced challenger for the Republican nomination: Peg Luksik of Johnstown, the conservative activist who has run unsuccessfully for governor three times."

Luksik, who, like Toomey, is strongly pro-life, has run several times for governor as the nominee of what is now the Constitution Party, whose national headquarters is located in Pennsylvania. If Luksik and Toomey both face Specter in the Republican primary, they will split the conservative vote (Pennsylvania does not require 50%-plus to win a party primary).

If Specter were to stand down, Santorum might decide to make a comeback. But the senior senator seems determined to go for a sixth term.

I'll be very surprised if the Keystone State's legislature changes to open primaries. The parties are very strong there, and despite having the right to invite independents to vote in their primaries, neither party does. I believe the parties will use their clout to keep closed primaries.

Imagine Specter, who will turn 80 next February 12, shooting it out with Chris Matthews, host of PMSNBC's "Hardball," in the Democratic primary.

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