There's a case to be made for replacing state Sen. Dominic F. Pileggi, the Senate majority leader from Delaware County. But his opponent in the Republican primary isn't the right candidate to move Pileggi aside.

With tea-party leanings, retired Chester County executive and Vietnam-era veteran G. Rogers Howard would make Pileggi's conservative, limited-government approach to his job look almost left-wing.

In the view of Howard supporters, for instance, the majority leader's votes in favor of hard-fought budget deals with former Gov. Ed Rendell were a sign of fiscal weakness. They also fault him, among other legislative leaders, for failing so far to enact a bound-to-be-flawed school voucher bill.

As business-friendly as Pennsylvania's tax climate is already, Howard — who holds a doctorate in organic chemcistry — is critical of corporate tax levels, would roll back prevailing-wage laws and government regulations, and would promote nonunion right-to-work rules.

Such policies wouldn't be particularly helpful to meeting the needs of the Philadelphia region. Nor would the region benefit from the loss of a key leadership position in the legislature — inasmuch as the Senate GOP caucus all but determines the course of most important legislation.

Pileggi, 54, a former Chester mayor who was elected in 2002 to succeed a lawmaker who died in office, hasn't been a trailblazer. Yet he has supported the state's smoke-free law, led the effort to update the open-records law, preserved funding for hazardous site cleanups, and ushered in rules that improved the Senate's transparency.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat and Chester activist Patricia Worrell in the fall. Republicans have an easy choice in nominating DOMINIC PILEGGI to seek another Senate term.