The Specter Switcheroo…
After the latest polling numbers indicated that he was trailing his arch-conservative primary opponent by 14 points (up from a 10 point spread just two weeks ago), long-time GOP Senator Arlen Specter discovered his “inner-Democrat” and announced that he was switching parties and will run for re-election on the Democratic ticket this November. (See today's articles from POLITICO, the Wall Street Journal and NY Times for more information.) Some other numbers that may have affected Specter’s decision include a poll that showed his popularity among the state’s Republican voters was dismal, but that the registered Democrats in the Keystone State give him solid approval ratings.
While poll results were certainly not the only reason for the Specter switch – he was one of only three GOP members of Congress to vote for President Obama’s stimulus bill – the move takes him out of what was certain to be a difficult primary race (and one that his advisors must have told him he may not win), gives him a clear path to the November election (something tells me he received assurances from Democratic leaders that there would be no viable challengers in the primary), and buys him some time to convince Pennsylvania voters that his decision was based on policy rather than politics (good luck with that one).
On a larger scale, the Specter switch gets the Democrats one step closer to the magic number of 60 votes in the Senate – a filibuster-proof majority. The only obstacle in the way of 60 votes is the outcome of the Minnesota Senate race between GOP incumbent Norm Coleman and Democrat challenger Al Franken – and Franken has won all the legal battles so far to secure that seat.
So what do you think about the Specter switcheroo? In the words of political analyst Charlie Cook, was this a stroke of political genius… or just a stroke? Will the newly-minted Democrat win re-election in November, or will Pennsylvania voters take a more conservative turn. Let me know by posting your comments…
Quotes of the Day:
“I wouldn’t let Minnesotans pick my cat.”
(Uttered by a fraternalist at the NFCA Fraternal & Communications Sections Mid-Year Meeting, during a discussion about the Minnesota Senate race.)
“Illinois recently changed its gubernatorial term limits law from two four-year terms to one term of 6-10 years.”
(Comment on the imprisonment of one recent governor and the pending trial of another by a fraternalist and long-time Chicagoan.)