Toomey for the GOP: He can give Democrats a real run for the Senate
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In April 2004, Sen. Arlen Specter narrowly beat the challenge of an upstart conservative congressman, Pat Toomey, in the Republican primary on the way to winning a fifth term against Democrat Joe Hoeffel.
In May 2010, Sen. Specter finds himself, as a defector from his old party, in a hard fight to beat another congressman, Joe Sestak, for the Democratic nomination. And to many Republicans -- as evidenced by the campaign contributions that have swelled his coffers -- Pat Toomey, who almost did it when the political planets were not so favorably aligned, is the natural choice to be the Republican nominee.
Peg Luksik doesn't think so. Although Mr. Toomey seems to be the prohibitive favorite (he's backed by the Republican State Committee), Mrs. Luksik, 54, from Johnstown, is no stranger to the role of political outsider; this is her fourth statewide race since 1990. She is best known as a pro-life crusader, but actually she's more than a one-issue candidate -- and more than the housewife she humbly describes herself as.
Born in Alabama and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, she received a degree in special education and elementary education from what was then Clarion State College. Mrs. Luksik, a mother of six, founded Mom's House, to support young women with unplanned pregnancies, and started the Parents Commission to give parents a voice in education and family issues. Indeed, charter schools are a fond part of her conservative worldview that is strongly supportive of limited government and lower taxes and is opposed to government bailouts.
Her trouble is Mr. Toomey, 48, of Lehigh County, holds many of the same views. He is socially conservative, doesn't like taxes, believes strongly in the free market, opposes excessive government spending, including taxpayer-funded bailouts and is against what he terms the government-controlled health care plan that recently became law.
After leaving Congress in 2005 (to keep a promise not to stay more than six straight years), Mr. Toomey became president of The Club for Growth, a limited-government, free-enterprise advocacy organization. In addition to these conservative credentials, Mr. Toomey has a compelling life story and an impressive business resume.
Growing up as the third of six children in blue-collar East Providence, R.I., he excelled in high school and went to Harvard. After graduation, he spent six years as an investment banker in the international capital markets and then, with two brothers, started a family-owned restaurant chain.
The smart money has got it right (his campaign raised more than $1 million in April alone and he has $4.6 million in cash on hand). The Post-Gazette endorses Pat Toomey as the best choice to carry forward Republican hopes for a Senate seat.
First Published May 10, 2010 12:00 am