Pennsylvania Pro-Life Senate Candidate Gaining in New Poll

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Senate Candidate Gaining in New Poll

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
April 20, 2004

Harrisburg, PA ( — A new poll shows that pro-life challenger Pat Toomey is within striking distance of defeating pro-abortion U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s contentious GOP primary.

The poll, conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, indicates that Toomey has cut Specter’s lead to five points, setting the stage for a possible political upset. Pennsylvania’s primary occurs April 27.

The poll’s margin of error is five points.

Just ten days ago, Toomey, a Congressman from the Allentown area, was behind by 15 points. The surge in support comes despite a barrage of attack ads from the Specter camp.

One political activist has called the Specter campaign, "The most negative I’ve ever seen."

"As Arlen Specter’s negative campaign sinks lower and gets more desperate, Pennsylvanians know it’s time for a change–next Tuesday Republicans will elect a new Senate candidate that we all can be proud of," said Toomey campaign spokesman Joe Sterns.

Toomey supporters say the ads have been especially mean-spirited, accusing Toomey of everything from owning a bar that served alcohol to drunks to promoting pornography. Some of the accusations have been so far-fetched, Toomey backers say Specter’s mudslinging may actually be working to Toomey’s advantage.

Since the beginning of the year, Specter has spent a whopping $7 million on advertising, much of it involving attack ads.

Some of Specter’s ads have questioned whether Toomey is actually pro-life.

Specter cites a vote, earlier in the Congressman’s career, on RU-486, the abortion pill. The vote came prior to Toomey’s becoming pro-life — a change celebrated by the pro-life community.

Toomey amassed a 100 percent pro-life voting record in the last Congress. He’s endorsed by the National Right to Life PAC and the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

In sharp contrast, Specter is an ardent supporter of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. Specter has also attempted to strip the pro-life plank from the Republican Party’s national platform.

According to the poll, fifty-one percent of those surveyed consider Specter "too liberal," up from 43 percent in a previous poll.

The polling results come amid a flurry of high-powered endorsements for Toomey.

Dr. James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, a well-known Christian group, has thrown his support to Toomey. In addition, Father Frank Pavone, the national leader of Priests for Life, a pro-life group made up of Catholic clergymen, is also supporting Toomey.

Dobson notes that he rarely endorses political candidates. But he is making an exception for Toomey.

In a letter dated March 22, Dobson said that Specter opposes "nearly everything we hold dear." As one example, Dobson points out that the 74-year-old Specter has acted as a "one-man roadblock" to the appointment of pro-life judges to the federal bench.

In contrast, Dobson says Toomey would be "a splendid, pro-family, pro-life voice" in the Senate.

"(Toomey) is a man of great courage to take on a sitting senator," Dobson wrote, "and the defeat of Arlen Specter would send a mighty signal that the days of waffling, devious, anti-family Republicans who are liberals in disguise (are) finally over."

Meanwhile, Father Pavone, who also does not ordinarily make political endorsements, says that, unlike Toomey’s opponent, Toomey "stands with us on the defense of human life, without which no other issues are intelligible."

The winner of the Specter-Toomey contest will go on to face pro-abortion Democrat Joe Hoeffel in the Nov. 2 general election.

Related web sites:
Quinnipiac poll:
Toomey campaign: