Mass. Sen. Brown headlines Pa. GOP Senate fundraiser; Dem foe calls his opponent extremist

By Joann Loviglio, AP
Friday, September 24, 2010

Mass. Sen. Brown headlines Pa. Senate fundraiser

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Pat Toomey, continued his efforts to appeal to moderates with a visit Friday from Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a tea party favorite until a centrist voting streak turned many former supporters against him.

Brown, headliner for a Toomey fundraiser at a posh riverfront restaurant in Philadelphia, is the second Republican New England senator in two months to raise money for Toomey in this heavily Democratic city. Maine Sen. Susan Collins appeared at a fundraiser for Toomey in August.

“We just need to bring some balance to a town that’s lost that balance,” Brown said of the nation’s capital.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll has given Toomey an apparent edge over Democrat Joe Sestak in the hotly contested Senate race. Toomey is working to broaden his appeal to independent and moderate voters in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.2 million.

Toomey compiled a very conservative voting record during his three terms in the U.S. House ending in 2005 and is the former head of the conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth.

Toomey said Brown “has demonstrated a thoughtfulness, an independence and certainly a commitment to the citizens he represents in Massachusetts.”

“I’m just very grateful that he reached out to me and said, ‘How can I help?’” Toomey said.

The amount of money raised from the event was not immediately available.

Brown won the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat in Democratic-dominated Massachusetts last January on a wave of tea party support, but since has drawn the activists’ ire by showing a moderate streak. He often votes with the GOP but has voted recently with Democrats on the Senate financial overhaul bill and a major jobs bill.

During a Friday afternoon campaign event at a job training center in South Philadelphia, Sestak called Toomey an extremist who is out of touch with working Americans.

Sestak, who earlier this week hosted President Barack Obama at a Philadelphia fundraiser, said middle-class Pennsylvanians would suffer under what he called Toomey’s extreme ideology favoring big corporations and special interests over working people.

“We don’t need … extremists who are more concerned with the wealthiest few than the hardworking many,” Sestak said in a statement.

Sestak also criticized the decision by Senate Democratic leaders to delay a vote on extending soon-to-expire tax cuts until after elections in November.

Sestak wants to make the cuts permanent for middle- and lower-income taxpayers but let them expire for couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $200,000. Toomey wants all the tax cuts, set to expire Dec. 31, to become permanent.

Sestak is attending a fundraiser Monday in Pittsburgh with Massachusetts’ other senator, Democrat John Kerry.

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