Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey maintains he'd defeat Democrat Arlen Specter in next year's general election in Pennsylvania, though some Republican activists are continuing to search for alternative candidates.
In switching parties nearly two weeks ago, Specter said his chances of winning the GOP Primary in 2010 were "bleak" because tens of thousands of Republican moderates had changed to the Democratic party for the 2008 election.
Polls showed Toomey would have likely cruised to an easy victory against Arlen Specter in next year's Republican primary, had the incumbent stayed in the party, instead of jumping to the Democratic side of the aisle. But the former Congressman disagrees with the idea that Specter would easily defeat him in a statewide general election.
Toomey says Specter's party switch was opportunistic, and likely turned off voters.
"Frankly, I don't think Pennsylvania voters believe that they can trust a man who on one day says 'I will remain a Republican for the rest of my life. I'm in this party to stay, and it's important that Republicans keep 41 seats in the Senate.' And then as soon as he looks at a poll, he just breaks to the other party."
Former Governor Tom Ridge says he won't enter next year's Senate race, and some party activists are scrambling to find another candidate they say would have more mainstream appeal than the conservative activist and former Club for Growth president. Mentioned names include Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati, Congressman Jim Gerlach and former US Attorney Patrick Meehan. There is one other declared GOP candidate for Senate: Peg Luksik from Johnstown, who ran unsuccessfully for governor three times in the 1990's.