Pennsylvania voters chose Republican Pat Toomey to take over the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Arlen Specter (D) tonight.
This is a storyline that was supposed to play out for Toomey six years ago, when the conservative former Congressman challenged the moderate Specter in the 2004 GOP primary and lost.
A lot has changed in those six years, most of it tipping the balance of things in Toomey’s direction. His fringy conservative fiscal politics — Toomey is a former head of the Club For Growth — have become GOP mantra with the rise of the tea party, and the shift rightward for his party forced Specter to change parties and become a Democrat. Specter’s story ended, of course, with a successful primary challenge from the left mounted by Rep. Joe Sestak, the man Toomey defeated tonight.
Toomey now heads into a Senate caucus seemingly read to adopt his hardcore conservative fiscal views and equally right-leaning social policy agenda. Like Toomey, many of the incoming class of freshman Republican Senators have flirted with the idea of privatizing Social Security, and suggested the best way to reform the nation’s health care problems is to undo all the reforming the last Congress just got done with.
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In a strange irony that only this election cycle could produce, Toomey now fills Specter’s old shoes and becomes associated with the moderate Republican Senators on Capitol Hill (when compared with the likes of, say, Rand Paul that is). In the year of the tea party, Toomey has somehow become associated with the weaker strain of tea party policy, despite his endorsement from Sarah Palin and the fact that he’s not moderate at all.
It just goes to show: if you wait long enough, your time will come. Toomey’s came tonight.