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The Difficulty of Specter’s Switch

Bitter asks in the previous post about whether Specter will want to keep his A-rating from the NRA.  Specter is politically weak, and NRA is a good ally to have in your corner in Pennsylvania, even if your a Democrat.  I don’t think he can afford to piss off the NRA right now.  But it’s actually a bit of an issue for Bitter and I if he keeps his endorsement.

The issue is, we’ve yet to have an endorsed Democrat running for any office.  This makes it a lot easier for us to work through the GOP, instead of the individual campaigns, in order to provide support for our endorsed candidates.  When we had ourselves and our volunteers manning phone banks this past election, it was through the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania.  The calls were going out to benefit all the federal candidates in our district, all of whom happened to be endorsed, and all of whom were Republicans.  We didn’t have to choose between who we lent our time to.  We could shill for all them at the same time working through the GOP.

If in 2010, Specter wins the NRA endorsement as a Democrat, we’ll have to go back to working through the individual campaigns at the federal level.  As much as I hate Arlen Specter on several other issues, and will loathe having to volunteer for him, it’s my commitment in my role as a volunteer to help NRA deliver the votes to their endorsed candidates.  I take that seriously, because when endorsed candidates lose, it feeds the perception, currently being molded by our illustrious Governor, that NRA endorsements don’t help you in Pennsylvania.  So as much as I hate Arlen Specter as a citizen, as an NRA election volunteer, I’ll help him out if he wins the endorsement.

It’s times like this I wish I had some pro-gun Dems who wanted to help out candidates.  That way I wouldn’t have to get my hands dirty with Arlen.  If he wins the Democratic primary, I do hope I can recruit some pro-gun Dems who want to help him out.  I want Specter to stay true to his current A-rating, because it would better to have two candidates fighting over the gun vote than not.  But if Specter goes down in the Dem primary, I can’t say I’ll be all that disappointed.  I’d like to be able to throw my support fully behind Pat Toomey.

As much as the thought of having to help out Specter in 2010 bothers me, you don’t win friends in politics by throwing them off the boat at the first sign of rough seas.  In politics, you don’t always get good choices.  It’s not a game for people who prefer things to be black and white, and the choices to be easy.

21 Responses to “The Difficulty of Specter’s Switch”

  1. Arnie says:

    I truly envy your incredible political stamina, Sebastion. I feel punched in the gut by Specter – I just want to throttle him. I can’t imagine what all his Republican supporters feel like who voted for him with held noses because they depended on him to keep the Party viable in the Senate. Now his turncoat act has given the Dems that unconscionable position of a filibuster-proof majority (once Franken moves in). Talk about betrayal! But your point is sound: if he is still pro-2nd Amendment by Spring of 2010, then he needs to be supported against his Democratic challenger in the primary. But he still makes me want to buy another “assault” rifle. I’m just glad you do what you do for us, Sebastion. Thank you.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Don’t thank me. Supporting him on the gun issue is not going to be a proud moment for me by any stretch. As an individual citizen, I don’t like Specter. I may not even vote for him. But I have to put aside my personal feelings for the sake of the whole in this one. Specter is good on guns, despite his other faults. I’m not a single issue voter, but I am a single issue activist.

  3. Graumagus says:

    I’m a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I support the NRA because it is the most effective organization working against those who would like nothing better than to rewrite our Constitution to fit their own ends and dilute/distort our right to bear arms.

    Regardless of his NRA rating, Specter has allied himself with those who act as though our Constitution was written on toilet paper, and treat is as such. I actually commend him for making his loyalties official instead of pretending to be a Republican, as he has for years. Specter’s walk to the other side of the aisle gives the Democrats a filibuster proof majority: a situation that should fill even the most politically detached gun owner with dread.

    I understand your personal trepidation in supporting Specter. Trust your gut. As soon as he doesn’t need the NRA anymore (which he won’t because of the support he will get from the left to keep that filibuster proof majority), he will turn on you in a heartbeat.

  4. N.U.G.U.N. says:

    Was Pat Toomey A-rated as a Congressman?

    If so, then we have two A-rated candidates. Now normally, the NRA endorses the candidate who is the incumbant, but also the one most likely to be re-elected.

    And in this case, Arlen Specter switched parties which might be construed as weakening his chance to win. And perhaps lead to the NRA endorsing Pat Toomey. Or making no endorsement…

  5. Graumagus says:

    Toomey also has an A rating. At least, Google has decreed it so :)

  6. Sebastian says:

    Toomey is great on the gun issue, but for the NRA endorsement, Specter has two things going for him: incumbency and a long record with only a few blemishes.

  7. Dannytheman says:

    Better you than me, guys. I have never voted for Specter. I can’t in good conscience be a one issue voter. I have to look at the full slate and choose. Guns, motorcycles, taxes, pro life included. I am going with the best candidate that BEST represents me.
    I feel strongly about all of them, and I am willing to talk, write and educate my elected representatives. But I just can’t ever choose to vote for this man. I miss Rick!!

  8. Graumagus says:

    Exactly, Danny. Specter’s personal vote is far outweighed by the aid he gives to those who would see our rights trampled.

    And it could always be worse: You could be like me and live in the People’s Republik of Illinois.

  9. Bram says:

    If the NRA were to endorse Specter over Toomey, I would instantly become an ex-NRA member.

  10. Sebastian says:

    NRA always endorses incumbents by policy, even if the challenger is pro-gun, so Specter will get the nod if he wins the primary. Sorry you don’t like it, but it’s smart politics.

    NRA doesn’t give a shit that Specter is shitty on all other important Republican issues, nor should they. He’s good on guns, and for them that’s all that does, or should matter.

    And I say that as someone who hates Specter, and probably isn’t voting for him personally.

  11. Graumagus says:

    I think the rank and file NRA members who agree with you, Bram, need to make that position absolutely crystal clear to the NRA leadership.

    I agree 100%.

  12. Sebastian says:

    It would be a horrible mistake for NRA to abandon Specter. There are very good reasons for sticking with an incumbent as long as he sticks with you. Incumbents have a 90% re-election rate, and someone who’s been in as long as Specter, has an even higher re-election rate. If NRA abandons Specter, and Specter wins, as a Democrat, do you think Specter’s going to give a flying rats ass what gun owners think after that?

    That’s not even considering the effect that it would have on NRA’s reputation on Capitol Hill, which would be to create an impression that NRA abandons pro-gun politicians as soon as their political fortunes sour, or they turn away from the GOP.

    NRA is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP, and they are a single issue organization. On their single issue, Specter hasn’t given them much cause to turn against him.

  13. Bram says:

    Sebastian,

    You are dead wrong. Specter has done real violence to the 2nd Amendment already. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he blocked conservative judges nominated by President Bush. The courts are where the fight for 2nd Amendment rights is the hottest right now. And, thanks to Specter, we have fewer allies on the bench.

    If you read Specter’s bio, you’ll understand that he has earned an NRA A rating only because it hasn’t been profitable enough for him to sell out our gun-rights YET. I doubt Specter ever gave a flying rats ass what gun owners think. So far this year he has sold out taxpayers (including generations of future tax-payers), PA voters (who thought they were getting a Republican), and his party that has kept him in office 29 years. We’re supposed to trust a traitor?

    At the least the NRA should stay out of a contest of 2 A rated candidates.

    It’s only April – he’ll probably sell us out before year-end to appease his new friends. Then we won’t have to argue about it.

  14. Yosemite Sam says:

    Sorry Sebastian, I have to agree with Bram. Specter is a traitor to his party and country and his switching sides at this point gives a filibuster proof majority to the Dems. This allows the Dems. to do anything they want and that anything is going to include gun control.

    If Specter doesn’t have any loyalty to his party, what makes you think he will give a rat’s behind about continued support of gun rights. He used gun rights supporters and Republicans like a cheap whore and is turning his back on the people who put him in office. If the NRA continues to support him after all of this then I will have a lot of thinking to do.

    If the NRA is as smart as they need to be, they should give Spector and Toomey the same rating and let the chips fall where they may. Even better, do not endorse either of them.

  15. Graumagus says:

    No cause. Yet.

    I’m not a republican, and I’m also not a GOP only litmus test kind of guy regardless of how I may have come off in these comments.

    I just have a strong feeling that as soon as Specter doesn’t need the NRA’s support, he’ll flip. Given how much the folks who DO vote against 2nd Amendment rights are going to be backing him for political reasons, I just have a sick feeling he isn’t going to be there when the NRA needs him. And that he’s going to contribute to a lot of legislation that will indirectly harm all of our rights, not just the right to bear arms.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

    And I also hope supporting him is worth the friction it’s going to cause with the rank and file members who despise him. The NRA may be single issue, but the millions of us who write those membership and donation checks are not.

    The NRA is kind of screwed either way, unfortunately.

  16. Sebastian says:

    You are dead wrong. Specter has done real violence to the 2nd Amendment already. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he blocked conservative judges nominated by President Bush. The courts are where the fight for 2nd Amendment rights is the hottest right now. And, thanks to Specter, we have fewer allies on the bench.

    What? Specter voted yes on both Roberts and Alito, the only two justices that came before the Senate. That’s just not correct at all. Not that he didn’t do a big dog and pony show, but in the end he voted the right way. Specter is like that. But if you want to bring up Judiciary votes, I would note he voted against Robert Bork, going against a Republican president, which probably saved the Second Amendment over the long run.

    We’ll see how he votes over the next year on guns. Maybe he will cast us off, but I doubt it. The politics don’t play for him well by doing that. Especially with his announcement that he’s standing firm on Card Check, which is going to piss off the unions in a state where unions still have some political power.

    All politicians make their positions based on cold calculations of where votes and money come up, and given Specter’s history of voting with gun owners, I think he’s decided where his calculation should be on that issue. Maybe that will change, who knows. But I doubt it.

  17. Sebastian says:

    If the NRA is as smart as they need to be, they should give Spector and Toomey the same rating and let the chips fall where they may. Even better, do not endorse either of them.

    We’ll see, but I think it would be horrible mistake for Specter to abandon his positions on guns. But I would be highly shocked if he sticks to his guns, that NRA wouldn’t endorse him. He’s an incumbent, and he’s gotten the endorsement for several elections past.

    It would be a slap in the face to Specter not to endorse him, and if that were to happen, and Specter were to win, then he will definitely moderate his views on the issue.

  18. Sebastian says:

    The NRA is kind of screwed either way, unfortunately.

    They kind of are. It’s always tough when both guys are good on your issue, and you have to endorse one over the other. That’s why NRA endorses incumbents by policy because they a) almost always win and b) it allows challengers to have realistic expectations about their chances. If it’s by policy, someone like Toomey will know not to expect the endorsement, rather than being pissed he didn’t get it.

  19. Bram says:

    Sebastian – I’m talking about lower court Federal Judges who never made it to the Senate floor because Specter used his Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to block them.

    You did just reminded me that Specter voted against confirming Bork. Instead we got Kennedy – thanks a lot.

  20. Sebastian says:

    Bork was against the Second Amendment. If he had gotten in, Heller would have lost.

  21. PatrickW says:

    If Specter is so willing to change parties, how can we trust him to not change his ideals on certain things including his views towards the 2nd amendment? Sure he flat out states he is only doing it to stay in office come the elections next year, HOWEVER, what else is he going to do to win an election? To garner support from the Dems.? He is a political traitor… and just like a traitor on the field of battle… you just can’t trust them at all. Just my two cents.

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