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Sen. Arlen Specter celebrates his hard-fought primary victory last night at the downtown Park Hyatt Hotel at the Bellevue.[Ryan Jones/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter won a chance at fifth term in a close race against his Republican challenger Rep. Pat Toomey in the Republican senatorial primary, earning 51 percent of the total vote. Toomey conceded the election at 12:40 a.m. with 97 percent of the state's precincts reporting.

President George W. Bush and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) both endorsed Specter, a moderate conservative, whose victory is expected to bode well for the Republican party's success in the general elections in November.

Specter's success will likely help Bush win swing votes in the presidential election next fall.

"He's been an excellent senator," said Wharton junior and State Chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans David Copley. "He brings people into the Republican Party."

Toomey -- known to be a hard-line right-winger -- attempted to rally a solid base from suburban and rural Pennsylvania.

"If Republicans want to actually elect Republican, then they have to vote for people like Pat Toomey," College junior Dan Gomez said.

Others, however, said that electing a senator as conservative as Toomey would have signaled a death knell for the Republican Party in the general election against Democrat Joe Hoeffel.

The conservative wing of the party -- represented by Toomey -- has alienated the centrist majority, said Philadelphian Emily Lawrence, who attended Specter's victory party yesterday evening.

Specter supporters said they went to the polls for him on issues of the economy, social policy and the potential for retaining a strong Pennsylvania voice in the Senate.

Specter has been "an advocate of small businesses," said David Oxley, the vice president for government affairs at OraSure Technologies Inc. in Bethlehem, Pa. Oxley noted Specter's support for creating jobs domestically instead of exporting them as a key contributor to his decision.

Specter's moderate social policies -- which undoubtedly alienated some conservative voters -- also attracted some left-leaning Republicans.

"I like his moderate leadership," said Diane Lutz, vice president of the Bucks County Republican Party. "He's a huge supporter of women and women's rights."

Other Pennsylvanians said it was important to keep an experienced voice from Pennsylvania in Washington.

As a senior senator, Specter will keep his high-ranking position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he has used to bring significant amounts of funding to Pennsylvania.

Additionally, his seniority is likely to help him defeat Hoeffel in the general election.

Many said they believed Specter has a far greater chance than Toomey would have against Hoeffel.

College sophomore Joe McFalls said he would "hold my nose and vote for Specter" because of the incumbent's ability to win the general election. However, he hoped that the support for Toomey would send Specter a message about the need to be more conservative.

In his victory speech, Specter said it was time to unify the Republican Party after a brief family feud and to work for Republican victories in the Senate and the White House.

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