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NYT: To Democrats Hungry for Senate, a Pennsylvania Seat Looks Ripe

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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 03:47 PM
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NYT: To Democrats Hungry for Senate, a Pennsylvania Seat Looks Ripe
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/politics/05penn.html?...

Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership, sums up his race for re-election this year with a perverse pride: "The other side of the aisle wants to beat me more than anything you can possibly imagine," he told the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association not long ago.

Mr. Santorum is almost certainly right. No other race in the nation has so focused the Democratic Party's energy, resources or raw hunger to return to power on Capitol Hill. No other race so captures the Republican Party's vulnerabilities this year, with some public opinion polls consistently showing Mr. Santorum trailing his Democratic opponent, State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr.

Mr. Santorum, 47, has been a brash symbol of the conservative ascendancy since his election to the Senate in 1994, leading the charge on issues like the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act and the partial privatization of Social Security enraging liberals all the while. He says he relishes a come-from-behind fight against Mr. Casey, but acknowledges that "it's not easy being me" in the current political climate, with a president whose approval ratings are stuck in the 30's.

Mr. Casey, 45, is an experienced statewide candidate, the son of a popular former governor, and in some ways the symbol of a new pragmatism in the Democratic Party. National party leaders heavily recruited Mr. Casey to enter this race, despite his long opposition to abortion rights, because, quite simply, they thought he could win.
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