Could Specter Face A Democratic Primary He Can’t Win? Oh Yeah…

Arlen Specter jumped ship from the Republican Party for a very simple reason: he was practically guaranteed to lose a Republican primary to Pat Toomey. You can be sure that Specter, in return for his betrayal, received promises of support from Democratic heavyweights if he’s primaried from the Left.

However, consider the situation….

#1) Specter has been a Republican senator in Pennsylvania since 1980. Obviously, during that time, there will have been a lot of Democrats who have developed grudges against him for voting against them on issues they hold dear.

#2) Given that Specter very obviously switched parties for purely political reasons, Democrats would genuinely have to worry that he might switch back if the political winds changed direction.

#3) Arlen Specter’s lifetime ACU rating is a left-of-center 44.47. That’s left-of-center, but it also makes him one of the single most conservative Democrats in a party where almost 82% of Dems had a 10% or less ACU rating and almost 53% had a zero rating.

#4) There was a rumor going around that the unions had offered to support Specter in a Democratic primary if he voted for Card Check and then switched parties. Specter, still hoping to soldier on as a Republican, voted against Card Check and then bizarrely made a point of saying he was still opposed to it after switching parties. I say “bizarrely” because if there is a Democratic primary, that will be a big rallying call against him. Personally, that’s why I think he will vote for it if it he gets another chance, but time will tell.

#5) Obama won Pennsylvania 55% to 44%. Although the state is likely to be a considerably more even match-up in 2010, liberal activists will view it as a state where they can easily get a far left-winger elected. Those activists will be strongly motivated to primary and beat Arlen Specter, which quite frankly, probably wouldn’t be too difficult for any credible, well financed, Democratic candidate.

Indeed, the netroots is ALREADY talking about the possibility.

From Open Left:

Arlen Specter: The Democrat Most Deserving of a Primary Challenge

Pop quiz! What Democratic Senator did all of the following…
Flipped his vote on the Employee Free Choice Act this year?
Voted against President Obama’s budget?

Compiled a voting record far worse than Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman?

Represents a state that President Obama won by more than 10%, and that has a Democratic voting registration advantage of more than 10%?

If you answered Arlen Specter, then you would be correct.

Unless Arlen Specter’s flip to the Democratic Party includes a flip in his votes on meaningful legislation, then his change doesn’t help progressives at all. He is joining our party purely for personal political survival. And, as Markos notes, Specter’s flip is arguably a net negative, as it hurts our chances of getting a better Democrat in the seat:

….The next meeting of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Party is on June 5th-6th in Pittsburgh. As a member of the state committee, I will be attending that meeting. I hope to find many other members who don’t want to just vote for Arlen Specter now that he has changed parties, but hasn’t changed his positions on apparently anything. If Specter wants to become the Democratic nominee, then he needs to earn it through a contested primary with an actual Democrat.

Here’s Young Philly Politics,

Joe Sestak May Primary Arlen

Good. Good. Good.

Interviewed on MSNBC, Joe Sestak just said he still might run against Specter.

Here’s Kos himself who doesn’t suggest primarying Specter per se, but doesn’t seem like he minds the idea,

“This move is about political survival, and nothing more. Specter’s overriding concern is staying in the Senate, and he’ll bend whatever conviction is necessary to make that happen. And since it was clear he wasn’t going to survive a primary challenge, well, he did what he needed to do. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the Dems pick up a good primary challenger to Specter, for the incumbent to suddenly re-find religion on EFCA. It’s not as if Specter believes in anything beyond his title and choice parking spot near the Capitol.”

This is a big part of the reason that I don’t think it made that much sense for Specter to switch instead of retire. The reality is that the liberal activist groups have a lot of reason to primary him — and if they find a credible challenger to do so, he’s highly likely to lose.

Then, even if he doesn’t, Republicans will be howling to pay him back for his betrayal while his supporters will consider him to be an unprincipled mediocrity who doesn’t believe in “anything beyond his title and choice parking spot near the Capitol.”

Given those circumstances, I think it’s very unlikely that Specter will be able to run the gauntlet and get back to the Senate. Of course, Pennsylvania is the same state that keeps sending John Murtha back to DC, no matter how corrupt he is or how many times he insults his own constituents, so who knows?

Share this!

Enjoy reading? Share it with your friends!

Send this to a friend