Can Tom Ridge Win a Republican Primary in PA?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: May 05, 2009 12:20 PM
http://aftermathnews.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/ridge.jpgIt seems like every political pundit inside and outside of Pennsylvania is heralding former PA Governor Tom Ridge as the Republican Party’s savior in the PA Senate Race.  But no one is really looking at his record and asking if Ridge can possibly win a primary against Pat Toomey.

There are no credible primary polls yet, but there is plenty of reason to think that the primary will not be a walk in the park for Ridge.

First, it is worth noting that Toomey nearly beat Specter last time around -- and despite the help Ridge would receive from Republican insiders -- it is unlikely he could match the help Specter received last time (after all, President Bush supported him).  Additionally, it is axiomatic that in GOP primaries, conservatives are the ones who will turn out to vote.  Clearly, Ridge would have his hands full in a primary.

But it's also worth examining Ridge's record -- which is sure to be thoroughly examined in the event he gets in this primary race. 

Roll Call reported in June of 2008 that Ridge failed to register a hefty-sized lobby contract with Albania for nearly two years.  Then, in 2005, questions were raised about whether Ridge used his position as Secretary of Homeland Security to direct contracts to his buddies. 

In 2005, the Associated Press reported that a day after, President Bush named Ridge Secretary of DHS, Ridge stayed at the home of David Girard-diCarlo, head of a major lobbying firm, representing many clients seeking contracts from DHS. 

A month later, two of Ridge’s aides left the government to go work for Girard-diCarlo’s company, and luckily for them, ethic laws barring the aids from lobbying the White House did not apply to the newly created Department of Homeland Security.  These aids successfully lobbied DHS for millions of dollars in government contracts.

Then there is Ridge’s record when he was in Congress.  Pennsylvania voters may have forgotten about his fairly liberal record, but I am willing to bet the Toomey campaign is already digging through old congressional records and more than ready to unleash a firestorm if Ridge makes the jump. 

The only thing you will hear from the mainstream media is that Ridge is pro-choice.  This is certainly true.  In 1992, Ridge even voted to override President Bush’s veto of a bill that allowed taxpayer-funded family planning clinics to promote using abortion as a family planning method. 

But Ridge’s liberal record extends far beyond the abortion issue.  

... What will happen when Pennsylvania Republicans find out that Ridge voted for the outrageous Fairness Doctrine in 1987 that would force radio stations to “balance” conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh with liberal hosts? 

... What will happen when PA Republicans find out that Ridge went out of his way to oppose President Reagan’s Missile Defense efforts, voting against funding for the program numerous times? 

... What will happen when voters find out that Ridge voted to send taxpayer dollars to the National Endowment for the Arts to be spent on obscene and indecent work, including child pornography? 

... What will happen when Republicans find out that Ridge voted against President Reagan and in favor of rehiring the 1,000 air-traffic controllers who were fired for striking illegally in 1981?

... What will happen when they find out Ridge voted repeatedly against cutting government spending?

.... What will happen when they discover Ridge voted to expand government entitlement programs?

My guess is, they will not be as enamored with Tom Ridge as the mainstream media is.  ... And by the way, like John McCain in 2008, the media's adoration of Ridge would end the day he became the GOP nominee.  That would be the day he would cease to be a "moderate" and would become the evil Homeland Security boss who was behind the Patriot Act -- and other evil schemes to take away civil liberties.

Finally, one has to wonder if Ridge will face any carpetbagging issues, considering his historic home is located—not in Pennsylvania—but just outside D.C. in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Cross-posted at PoliticsDaily.com.