Via Grassroots PA, it looks like they are clearing the way for Specter on the Democratic side.Â State Representative Josh Shapiro is ruling out running now, and so is Allyson Schwartz.Â Grassroots PA also reports Sestak isn’t rulling out a primary challenge, and Sestak is a big enough asshole to do it.Â 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.Â I would be surprised if Specter doesn’t face anyone in the primary, but we’ll see.Â 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.Â It’s certainly a possibility he’ll abandon his positions on guns, but I don’t think it’s likely.Â 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.Â Polling is making it abundantly clear he can’t survive politically in Pennsylvania as a Republican.Â 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.Â 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.Â If Specter faces a serious primary challenger from the left, he might view it as a liability.Â 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?Â Republicans will never vote for him whether he carries an NRA endorsement or not!Â True, but Pennsylvania is not generally a red state.Â 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.Â Pennsylvania has a lot of A rated pro-gun Democrats.Â 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.Â It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong if he doesn’t, but this also isn’t New York.Â 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.