Democrats Clearing the Field for Specter

Via Grassroots PA, it looks like they are clearing the way for Specter on the Democratic side.  State Representative Josh Shapiro is ruling out running now, and so is Allyson Schwartz.  Grassroots PA also reports Sestak isn’t rulling out a primary challenge, and Sestak is a big enough asshole to do it.  Apparently Torsella is also staying in.

If Specter is too progressive for Pennsylvania Republicans, he’s probably too conservative for a lot of Democratic primary voters.  I would be surprised if Specter doesn’t face anyone in the primary, but we’ll see.  The Democratic Party seems to be getting behind Specter, so anyone who does run won’t likely have the backing of the party leadership.

There’s a lot of speculation that Specter can’t really be trusted on the gun issue, because of his betrayal of the Republican Party and of conservatism.  It’s certainly a possibility he’ll abandon his positions on guns, but I don’t think it’s likely.  One mistake folks should not make when it comes to politicians, is believing they have any loyalty to anything beyond keeping their seats.

From that point of view, Specter’s move is perfectly rational.  Polling is making it abundantly clear he can’t survive politically in Pennsylvania as a Republican.  He could have waited to see whether that changed, but switching parties late in the game wouldn’t give him any time to build support among Democrats, and to raise money through those circles.  When viewed through the lens of “What do I need to do to stay in office,” switching parties was really the only choice, and now is probably the right time.

The question for Specter is whether he views his record on guns as an asset, or a liability.  If Specter faces a serious primary challenger from the left, he might view it as a liability.  If I were Specter, I would look at it this way: his NRA endorsement is the one asset that he can take with him across the aisle.

But wait?  Republicans will never vote for him whether he carries an NRA endorsement or not!  True, but Pennsylvania is not generally a red state.  It’s a blue state, generally pro-gun, and it’s worthwhile noting that Specter has never been a conservative and has always had a lot of support among Democrats, and many of those Democrats appreciate his stance on the Second Amendment.  Pennsylvania has a lot of A rated pro-gun Democrats.  The last thing Arlen Specter will want is to tempt those Democratic voters to cross the aisle and vote for his opponent.

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet Specter stays good on guns.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong if he doesn’t, but this also isn’t New York.  Specter’s party switch is a cold political calculation aimed at keeping his seat, and in that case, the same calculation should also make him want to keep his endorsement.

10 thoughts on “Democrats Clearing the Field for Specter”

  1. Now we just need to weed out a few more RINO’s to get us back to a consertive party. To think just a few years ago he stated to the effect that there should be a rule against leaving your party mid-stream. It worked here in Alabama for Sen. Shelby , in the reverse, and I thought it was wrong then to leave the folks that elected you, for a new lover.

  2. Isn’t there something that will make him go away? Garlic? A wooden stake? Anything?

  3. I don’t wish any ill will on anyone (actually in his case I do) but is he still free and clear on the big C?

  4. I wouldn’t bet on Spector remaining loyal on guns. It’s pretty clear that this man lacks any kind of principle. His move the the Democratic party isn’t based on any kind of disagreement with the Republican party but soley on his fear of losing next years’s Republican primary. So instead of comparing him to Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who switched parties in 2001, I would compare Spector’s switch to Bob Torricelli dropping out of the NJ senate race in 2002 six weeks before the election and the rigged replacement with Frank Lautenberg. I do hope Spector sees a challenge in the Democratic party, but meanwhile anyone who contributed to Spector’s campaign ought to flood his office with requests for refunds, like Senators Corker and Alexander of Tennessee.

  5. Politicians have one principle: to stay in power. Politicians that don’t make that their primary principle we have a word for: losers. Granted, I would say there’s about a 40% chance Specter will mellow on guns, and about 25% he’ll change his position entirely. But I think keeping his position is the smart political move, in terms of keeping his seat, so I’m thinking he’ll do that. I could be wrong, but we’ll see.

  6. IIRC, Specter was never all that good on guns from the start. I’ve long been puzzled by his A rating from the NRA.

  7. A lot of people think that, and I’m not sure why. What’s funny is it does seem intuitively right, I guess because Specter pisses off just about everyone else. But when you check his record, he’s votes the right way most of the time. He even voted against the bill that contained the Lautenberg amendment.

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