Cornyn, who is chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee and a staunch conservative, finds himself in the unusual position of supporting one of the GOP’s most liberal senators. Cornyn has urged Pennsylvania Republicans to support the 80-year-old incumbent’s bid for reelection in 2010. Specter faces a rematch with conservative challenger Pat Toomey, a former congressman who lost the 2004 primary by less than 2% of the vote. Roll Call, a daily newspaper that focuses on Congress and the federal government, reported: In a letter to Pennsylvania Republicans last month, Cornyn stressed Specter’s ability to hold onto the seat in the general election as one of the major reasons the NRSC is backing him. “As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections, it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states,” Cornyn wrote. A Quinnipiac University poll released on March 25 shows Toomey leading Specter, 41-27. Specter’s favorable/unfavorable rating with Republicans was 29% favorable, 47% unfavorable. The poll attributed Specter’s weak numbers to his support for the federal stimulus package. The reason that Cornyn and other prominent Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are supporting Specter is that Republicans currently have the minimum number of senators, 41, necessary to block Democratic legislation with a filibuster. If Toomey were to defeat Specter, recent political trends favorable to Democrats make it likely that the seat would be won by a Democrat, and the Republicans’ ability to stop the Democrats would disappear. Cornyn undoubtedly was hoping for endorsements from members of the state’s congressional delegation, but Toomey’s lead in the polls led members who were quoted by CQ Politics to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
Politics & Policy