One thing worth thinking about in the Senate’s compromise bill is that one Senator is really putting his neck out here: Arlen Specter, who may be leaving himself wide open to a challenge in the Republican primary.
Unlike his fellow pro-stimulus Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Specter is up for re-election in 2010. And there exists an active element in the party that is always eager to push him out the door, even if it meant endangering the GOP’s hold on the seat — in fact, Specter just barely survived a conservative primary challenge 51%-49% in 2004, when the Club For Growth threw its weight behind then-Congressman Pat Toomey.
I spoke today with Nachama Soloveichik, the Club’s communications director, and she confirmed that they’re hearing a lot of anger over the compromise. “Grassroots Republicans are infuriated. They’re fed up. They’ve had it,” Soloveichik said, even going so far as to add that for many, “this is the ultimate act of treason.”Soloveichik said that no specific potential primary challengers have stepped forward just yet. Toomey, who now serves as the Club’s president, is currently eyeing a possible campaign for governor of Pennsylvania, not Senate. But she sounded optimistic: “Whenever there is a constituency for a challenger, then people start looking at the opportunities.”
Meanwhile, a Democrat has now thrown his hat in the ring for this race: Joe Torsella, a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia and the founder of the National Constitution Center. Other Dems are looking at the race, too. If a Republican candidate is able to successfully mobilize right-wing ire against Specter in the primary, then that Democratic nomination could become a very valuable thing, indeed.