A follow-up to yesterday’s too-good-to-check speculation as the man of Steele’s bravado reverberates around the ‘sphere. How much of what he said is a serious threat to Specter and how much a populist pose for the base? Survey says: He’s full of it. One reason is that there simply aren’t any credible Republican challengers. Perennial Specter nemesis Pat Toomey is angling for governor, says Ambinder, which leaves Benedict Arlen wide open. Another reason, which I noted yesterday, is that unless the GOP’s surging come 2010, Steele’s not going to be eager to throw incumbents overboard. In fact, the RNC’s all but retracted his comments already:

Originally, when First Read reached out to the RNC for comment, we were told that Steele’s words spoke for themselves.

But the RNC later reversed course. “The RNC has no intention of getting involved in primaries,” a party official told First Read. “We work with state parties to elect Republicans and will continue to do that.”

The bottom line, though? Even if Steele does throw down the gauntlet, Specter makes enough bank to laugh him off. Jay Cost runs the numbers:

In the 2004 cycle, Arlen Specter raised $14,953,355 in direct contributions. Of that, zero dollars came directly from the RNC. The state party made a $4,500 in-kind contribution. Additionally, a handful of Republican-related PACs (some of which, like the Republican Issues Campaign, received donations from the RNC) tossed in $5,000 apiece. There was nearly half a million dollars in coordinated contributions that the Republican Party as a whole spent – these are dollars that the Specter campaign and the party unit making the donation have a say in how they are spent. The RNC was responsible for about $38,000 of this and the state party was responsible for nothing…

Don’t expect the NRSC to balk this cycle at helping Specter, who made a point (as most safe incumbents do) to help his fellow Senate Republicans in 2004. He gave tens of thousands of dollars to Ben Campbell, Jim Bunning, Charles Grassley, Bill Bennett, Don Nickles, Mike Crapo, Kit Bond, and Sam Brownback. He can expect to receive in return, should he need it this cycle. That’s how it works.

He’s already got $5.8 million on hand for his next run. Arguably the RNC will play a bigger role in 2010 than it did in 2004 since that was a presidential election year and funds were diverted to Bush, but it won’t be so big that Specter’s suddenly going to find his conservative conscience — especially with polls like this circulating. The upshot: He’ll be around destroying GOP filibusters for years to come. Sorry, Michael.

Tags: Republicans