Tom Ridge Senate Bid?

Former Pennsylvania governor and Department of Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge is considering running for Arlen Specter’s seat in the Senate, Roll Call reports (via Taegan Goddard).

Very interesting.  With Specter in the race for the Republican nomination, it was expected to be a two-way rematch with Pat Toomey.  Now, there’s speculation that former senator Rick Santorum may run and there appears to be a Draft Ridge movement.

Toomey would have almost certainly defeated Specter for the nomination, which is why Specter decided to switch his party label to Democrat.  Specter would almost certainly beat Toomey in a general election matchup.  Santorum would have a better shot but my sense is that, like Toomey, he’s too socially conservative for today’s Pennsylvania.   Ridge, on the other hand, would be formidable indeed.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    I contributed way too much money to Santorum before I found out what he is like. Wish I could have it back. Toomey is just as bad. Ridge would be great! No way he wins the nomination. The remaining Republicans here in Pennsylvania are now solidly in the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity camp. That is fine if you just want to rant against stuff, but there are no ideas or coherent policies coming out of these groups.

    Steve

  2. But won’t Ridge have similar (although not an intense) problems with the GOP nominating electorate that Specter was going to have? He is, IIRC properly, moderate on social issues?

    Santorum would likely Toomey, but I think that Specter would best Santorum.

  3. Rick Almeida says:

    Purely guessing here, but Ridge might not have the centrist baggage that Specter does. Sure, he’s to the left of Toomey & Santorum on social issues, but he was (IIRC) a popular governor and national figure.

    Plus, and this is _really_ spitballing, given the likelihood of Toomey getting crushed in a general election, might “the base” be willing to satisfice with a compelling Ridge candidacy?

  4. Bithead says:

    Ridge, also has the approval of the old boy network within the GOP as I discuss it my own place yesterday.

    If Toomey gets pushed out by the party elite, there’s going to be an awful lot of defections from the republican party. This is a stupid, stupid move on the GOP’s part, if they actually allow a Ridge to mount a position to Toomey.

    And Rick, I think you underestimate Toomey’s chances. He was overwhelmingly elected in overwhelmingly Democrat Bucks county , for example .

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    How about if as we regroup the GOP make it a qualifier that you can’t for the murder of millions of babies and be a Republican, shit!

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Specter would almost certainly beat Toomey in a general election matchup. Santorum would have a better shot but my sense is that, like Toomey, he’s too socially conservative for today’s Pennsylvania. Ridge, on the other hand, would be formidable indeed.

    but Ridge probably can’t win the wingnut heavy primary…

    Quite the Gordian Knot.

  7. just me says:

    I am not even convinced Ridge could win against Specter.

    I think one frustration I have with the GOP is that I often feel like the good ol’ boys that run the party want to tell me who my candidate should be.

    I readily admit I am not super sad to see Specter gone from the party. I think his liberal positions on social issues were tolerable except that he wasn’t fiscally conservative either. I am really not sure exactly what positions he was conservative on, but I am sure as a democrat the democrats will be scratching their heads and wondering about him as well.

    What does Ridge actually bring to the conservative table other than being a former governor that makes him electable to the base and really electible statewide? If the voters want a moderate, what is the difference between Specter and Ridge? Would there even be one?

  8. sam says:

    @Bit

    If Toomey gets pushed out by the party elite, there’s going to be an awful lot of defections from the republican party. This is a stupid, stupid move on the GOP’s part, if they actually allow a Ridge to mount a position to Toomey.

    Of course, if the GOP has any hope of regaining national, as opposed to mere regional, status, it’s the Ridges that will bring it about. Not that I suppose for a nanosecond that you would agree.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    what sweet irony when the best hope for the GOP to increase their standing with the public is to run a person associated with the disgraced Bush administration.

  10. James Joyner says:

    what sweet irony when the best hope for the GOP to increase their standing with the public is to run a person associated with the disgraced Bush administration.

    Prominent party members have generally been associated with their party’s presidential administrations. I don’t know that Ridge did a particularly great job with DHS — whose creation I opposed — but I know of no taint that passes on to him.

  11. Bithead says:

    Of course, if the GOP has any hope of regaining national, as opposed to mere regional, status, it’s the Ridges that will bring it about. Not that I suppose for a nanosecond that you would agree.

    You’re damned right, I don’t agree.

  12. sam says:

    @Bit

    You’re damned right, I don’t agree.

    Dude, that piece must have been hard to write what with your hair on fire and all.

  13. Bithead says:

    Sam, why is it that you seemingly approve of leftist extremists, but rightists who hold to their principles, are somewhow less valid, and to be chastised?

    If you can face the answer to that question I suppose we’ll have far less to chat about on this topic.

  14. Grewgills says:

    Sam, why is it that you seemingly approve of leftist extremists, but rightists who hold to their principles, are somewhow less valid, and to be chastised?

    Glad I read that one before breakfast or there would be cereal in my nose.
    Pot, kettle? maybe pot, coal.

  15. sam says:

    @Bit

    Sam, why is it that you seemingly approve of leftist extremists, but rightists who hold to their principles, are somewhow less valid, and to be chastised?

    Ah, the ‘seemingly’ gives the game away. I don’t approve of left-wing shrieking, either. What I’m opposed to, Bit, is what David Frum calls “Anger Theater”. While you’re certainly no fascist, I am, sometimes when reading you, reminded of what someone said to Pound when Pound was extolling the virtues of Mussolini. The guy said, “But the voice, Ezra, the voice.”

    It’s your voice, Bit, your voice, not your ideas.

  16. Bithead says:

    And would Grewgills be an example of such, do you suppose?

    Like it or not, sam, the left is in power today because of those fundie screamers. And frankly, I’m with Hawkins in that the situation is going to require an equal force on the right to move us off this headlong rush to the left.

  17. sam says:

    @Bit

    Like it or not, sam, the left is in power today because of those fundie screamers.

    The ambiguity in that is mirth-provoking. But as to your last, well good luck to you.

  18. Philly Jeff says:

    I love how everyone comes back to social issues. Specter lost support over the PA Republicans over the voting of the spending bills, and spending money we don’t have. The next election will be straight up spending and ethics. Social issues having nothing to do with the people of PA turning their back on Specter.
    Specter seems to not understand that we cannot spend money that we don’t have and he has found a home in the Democrat party. Then with him blaming the GOP for the death of Jack Kemp is showing that he is staring to loose it.

    So can we stop blaming the Catholics and Christians for the implosions of the republican issues. This is way beyond social issues.

  19. Bithead says:

    I love how everyone comes back to social issues. Specter lost support over the PA Republicans over the voting of the spending bills, and spending money we don’t have. The next election will be straight up spending and ethics

    True to a point. Specter’s support was always limited, however, because the the social/ethical issues you mentnion. His move to the left on spending issues sealed the deal.

    In the end for him, it came down to a choice of power over principle.

  20. Grewgills says:

    And would Grewgills be an example of such, do you suppose?

    Yes, Bit I am the shrieking extremist here.

    Both sides already have far too many “fundie screamers”. To pretend that there is a “fundie screamer” gap is silly at best.

    In the end for him, it came down to a choice of power over principle.

    There we agree, though I would say that is a pattern for most politicians.

  21. Bithead says:

    Both sides already have far too many “fundie screamers”. To pretend that there is a “fundie screamer” gap is silly at best.

    Nonsense.
    Have a look at how the Democrats won….

    They went to their base.
    Period.

    For eight years, every move the Republicans made was a reason for a press conference highlighted by leftists screaming and gnashing their teeth over whatever. For years, they cast Bush as the bad guy, the Republicans as the anti-American, and relentlessly pushed their core leftist values. They weren’t accepting their moderates… they pushed them out. Consider Joe Lieberman, as a prime example.

    So tell me how Republicans are singing onto a winning stretegy with folks who sign on for compromise with that noise. And think, now… didn’t we just offer up a centrist, and lose our asses for our trouble?

    With that in mind, back to your question of there being a gap; Look at what the Republican leadership has been doing… at every turn lunging left, where the rank and file has been.. unsuccessfully trying to bring them back to the base… back to actual Republican principles.

  22. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    Is your memory really that short?

    They went to their base.
    Period.

    Let’s for the moment accept your premise. How is that different than republican strategy over the last decade or so in what meaningful way?

    For eight years, every move the Republicans made was a reason for a press conference highlighted by leftists screaming and gnashing their teeth over whatever. For years, they cast Bush as the bad guy, the Republicans as the anti-American, and relentlessly pushed their core leftist values.

    sub Clinton for Bush, Right for Left, and D for R and you have an equally true if overly simplistic statement.

    Look at what the Republican leadership has been doing… at every turn lunging left

    Really? Where are you seeing this?
    Social issues on most fronts (embryo rights, gay rights, evolution v creation, etc) will continue to move to what is now commonly considered left as our society progresses. Conservatives will continue to move along, though at a slower pace.
    On fiscal issues Republicans have long talked about limiting spending, but don’t do so when they have the chance.
    So, on what key issues has the Republican leadership moved significantly to the left recently?

  23. An Interested Party says:

    For eight years, every move the Republicans made was a reason for a press conference highlighted by leftists screaming and gnashing their teeth over whatever. For years, they cast Bush as the bad guy, the Republicans as the anti-American, and relentlessly pushed their core leftist values. They weren’t accepting their moderates… they pushed them out. Consider Joe Lieberman, as a prime example.

    What a load of horseshit…it was those who were against the Iraq disaster who were cast as “anti-American” and who had their patriotism questioned…Lieberman was challenged because of one issue–Iraq, not because he was particularly moderate…indeed, if that had been the case, senators like Pryor and Lincoln from Arkansas, Bayh from Indiana, and of course Nelson from Nebraska would all have faced the same treatment…