Pennsylvania Senate Primary Continues to Heat Up Over Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 11, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pennsylvania Senate Primary Continues to Heat Up Over Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 11, 2003

Harrisburg, PA ( — A key U.S. Senate primary between incumbent pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and pro-life Congressman Patrick Toomey continues to heat up. A recent poll shows Specter leading the race, but Toomey’s campaign says those who know Toomey’s record support him.

Specter is leading his Republican primary challenger by 52 percent to 25 percent among registered Republican voters statewide. The poll of only 193 Republicans, conducted Nov. 23 through Monday, had a sampling error of plus or minus 7 percent.

"The fact that he can only get 52 percent of Republicans to say they’re supporting him, is devastating to him," Toomey said.

Toomey’s campaign says the poll shows Toomey with a 57 to 29 percent lead over Specter among registered Republicans in the Lehigh Valley, who know both candidates best.

"It’s clear that among the voters who know Arlen Specter and Pat Toomey best, Pat Toomey is the overwhelming favorite," said Toomey campaign spokesman Joe Sterns. "Once Republicans voters statewide get to know Pat better in the coming months, the numbers in the Lehigh valley will be repeated throughout the state."

Sterns also said many Republicans have an unfavorable view of Specter, mostly because of his pro-abortion stance, while Toomey is behind in the poll only because he is not yet well-known outside of his Congressional district.

Chris Borick of Muhlenberg College, who directed the poll, said Toomey’s biggest liability four months before the primary is that more than half of Republican voters statewide haven’t heard of him. Only 2 percent of those surveyed said they hadn’t heard of Specter.

Toomey has challenged Specter to a series of debates across the state and, thus far, Specter has declined.

Specter "wants no part of it" Toomey told the York Dispatch newspaper and hinted that Specter is uninterested in having his record examined.

The race has hinged in large part on the abortion issue and Ruth Cashman, who attended a recent Toomey event, said it was that issue that will direct her vote.

"I’m more conservative and I think Senator Specter has voted in areas that I have not agreed with," she told the Dispatch newspaper.

Meanwhile, the American Conservative Union will begin running advertisements on behalf of Toomey starting Monday.

Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-PA) is a pro-abortion Congressman and is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.