Apparently Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” may have lasting consequences for Arlen Specter, as The Hill reports here in detail. Some excerpts:
**Specter faces an extremely difficult primary race against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the conservative firebrand who lost his bid to oust Specter from his seat in the 2004 GOP primary by a mere 17,000 votes (out of more than a million cast).
**Pennsylvania political experts say that Specter would likely face a more difficult challenge in 2010 because the Republican primary electorate in Pennsylvania has become more conservative; primarily because during Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos,” 150,000 to 200,000 centrist Republicans switched registration to Democrat.
**“A candidate who loses in a primary cannot run as an independent in the general election,” said Leslie Amoros, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of State.” (unlike Connecticut, where Joe Lieberman did just that after losing his primary to Ned Lamont.)
**Specter is disadvantaged by the fact that Pennsylvania’s primaries are closed; independents and Democrats are barred from voting in the GOP contest.
**Specter could run as an independent or return to the Democratic Party. He switched to the Republican Party in 1965 to run as district attorney in heavily Democratic Philadelphia in 1965.
**The Money Quote:
Rep. Toomey, president of the Club for Growth, a group that advocates for lower taxes and smaller government, bashed Specter’s vote last month for the economic stimulus package. “Unfortunately, the recent extraordinary response of the federal government — more corporate bailouts, unprecedented spending and debt, higher taxes – is likely to make things worse,” Toomey said in a recent statement.
“I think we are on a dangerously wrong path. Pennsylvanians want a U.S. senator focused on real and sustainable job creation that gets our economy growing again.”
Go, Pat, Go!