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Specter ekes out primary win in Pennsylvania

Specter ekes out primary win in Pennsylvania

Four-term Republican U.S. senator Arlen Specter, who has angered many conservatives by opposing the President Bush-endorsed constitutional same-sex marriage ban, emerged victorious in a fractious and closely watched primary in Pennsylvania, prevailing over a more conservative rival who had bucked the party and threatened its moderate wing. Specter's win over Rep. Pat Toomey was also a victory for President Bush, who endorsed Specter and is counting on his supporters to help him carry a state he narrowly lost to Democrat Al Gore in 2000. "Now is the time, now that we've settled our family disagreement in the Republican Party, to unite for victory in November for the president," Specter said early Wednesday. With 99% of precincts reporting, Specter had 527,365 votes, or 51%, to Toomey's 510,724 votes, or 49%. Toomey conceded the race to applause in suburban Allentown by endorsing Specter. The gay political group Log Cabin Republicans celebrated Specter's win as an important achievement. "This is a victory for the forces of inclusion in the Republican Party," said Log Cabin executive director Patrick Guerriero. "Senator Specter has been a valued friend to gays and lesbians, and the people of Pennsylvania are lucky to have such a powerful voice representing them in the Senate." Toomey has supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, Guerriero said, and has provided a stark contrast to Specter on questions relating to equality for gays and lesbians. Specter is a cosponsor of hate-crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has been an advocate for global and domestic HIV/AIDS funding. "Republicans in Pennsylvania were given a clear choice. They have chosen to repudiate the politics of exclusion," said John Partain, president of the Philadelphia Log Cabin Republicans. "Senator Specter's victory is a victory for a big-tent Republican Party. His victory is yet another setback for the extremists who are pushing an antifamily constitutional amendment." Specter next faces Rep. Joe Hoeffel, a Democratic opponent who hopes to unseat Specter in a state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 389,000. Hoeffel, a three-term congressman from suburban Philadelphia, said Wednesday that Specter moved too far to the right in the primary to be successful in the November 2 general election.

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