Conservative Luksik to challenge Sen. Specter

March 10, 2009 10:54:46 AM PDT
Peg Luksik, who ran for governor three times in the 1990s, plans to challenge Arlen Specter for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010 and on Tuesday said she wouldn't back down if fellow conservative Pat Toomey decides to join the race. "This is not about hitting Specter," Luksik said in a telephone interview. "This is about giving families a voice in the U.S. Senate."

Luksik said she will not be deterred by Toomey's prospective candidacy. Specter defeated Toomey, a former congressman, by less than 2 percentage points in the 2004 primary after then-President George W. Bush and then-Sen. Rick Santorum stepped in to help the incumbent.

The 79-year-old Specter, who has said he plans to seek a sixth term, recently drew the wrath of many members of his party when he cast one of three Republican votes for the $787 billion economic stimulus package that President Barack Obama signed in February.

Toomey, 47, had been encouraging speculation that he would run for governor in 2010 but announced last week that he was considering another run for Senate. He cited Specter's stimulus vote as a reason to run.

Toomey had no immediate comment about Luksik's announcement, said his spokeswoman at the Washington-based Club for Growth, an anti-tax group of which he is president.

"He's still thinking about it, working things out," said the spokeswoman, Nachama Soloveichik.

If Toomey were to run, the three-way race could divide the GOP's conservative wing and give Specter an easier primary. Luksik said that would be Toomey's fault, since he would be entering the race third.

"That's up to him," she said.

Luksik doesn't believe Toomey will run. In February, Toomey "told me point blank he wasn't running for the Senate," she said. "I have no reason not to take him at his word."

Luksik, a 53-year-old Johnstown resident who got involved in statewide politics as an anti-abortion activist, ran for governor as a Republican in 1990, but lost the primary.

She subsequently ran as an independent in 1994, when she set a record for third-party candidates by attracting 13 percent of the vote, and as the Constitutional Party candidate in 1998.

Luksik said she rejoined the Republican Party about a month ago.

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