I think I can speak for all three of us at Palin Drone when I express my relief and gratitude to moderate Tom Ridge for declining to challenge conservative Pat Toomey for the Republican nomination for US Senate. While the "prevailing wisdom" (and I use the term loosely) among the GOP's power-brokers is that a staunch conservative Republican couldn't possibly beat a Democrat in a general election, I beg to differ. Toomey nearly edged out Specter in 2004, narrowly losing that race by 51-49% in spite of President Bush and Senator Rick Santorum's endorsement of the donkey in elephant's clothing.
And as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air points out, Rick Santorum's loss in 2006 can be attributed to strong anti-Republican headwinds (largely caused by their own runaway spending), and the fact that he'd only served one term. I'd also add that the Democrats purposely ran a "pro-life" candidate in the form of the otherwise liberal -- not to mention non-descript -- Bob Casey (a political dolt in the tradition of Scott McClellan). Do you suppose they realized something the regrettably thick GOP leadership missed? Namely that the Keystone State, once outside the confines of Philly and Pittsburgh, is mostly populated with conservatives and Reagan Democrats.
As I recall, Santorum's support for the then deteriorating, pre-surge Iraq War had more to do with his loss than his social conservatism. How else do you explain a bore like Casey trouncing such a well-spoken, intelligent and likeable opponent? True, of late, Santorum is starting to annoy me, but that's an issue for another post. For now, I am happy it appears Toomey will run unopposed in the primary, allowing him to save his money for the fight ahead in the general.
Ed's advice is well-taken: Toomey should put most of the focus on economic issues and fiscal conservatism; God knows we'll be feeling the disatrous effects of Obama's socialism by the time this race gets interesting. And it wouldn't hurt to run commercials highlighting Specter's absurd comments in the wake of Jack Kemp's death, either.