Alex Massie

GOP Deathwish

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Arlen Specter, the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, is no-one's idea of a rock-ribbed Republican. But even though he voted for the recent stimulus package, he is a Republican. It's a measure of how the GOP currently cares more about ideological purity than actual victory that conservatives are, once again, very excited by the prospect that Specter could face a serious primary challenge in 2010. The fact that a conservative Republican seems pretty unikely to win in a state that is trending Democratic seems not to matter too much. The Keystone state hasn't voted Republican in a Presidential election since 1988, while the last GOP governor, Tom Ridge, was also, of course "squishy" and dangerously pro-choice. Sure, Rick Santorum won until he was trounced by Bob Casey. I'd suggest it's the trouncing that is more predictive of future results than Santorum's initial victories.

Now perhaps Pat Toomey or someone of his ilk can win statewide, but recent elections make that seem a dubious bet. And yet the prospect of getting rid of Specter excites much more enthusiasm on the right than Senate races in which the target is, you know, a Democrat. I'd have thought that an unreliable Republican vote was preferrable to a reliable Democratic vote. But apparently not! Hello wilderness, we've always wanted to spend years here!

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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