Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Will Specter Skip The GOP Primary And Seek Re-Election As An Independent?


Neither fish nor fowl

Like any keen political observer, Arlen Specter sees the Republican Party turning into a radical right regional party with of no consequence nationally and able to compete only in the most backward regions of the country, the old slaveholding states and the theocratically inclined Mormon West. But instead of jumping ship-- a ship on which he is increasingly unpopular (only 26% of Republicans in Pennsylvania support him!)-- Specter, who has been invited to come back to the Democratic Party, is determined to remain a Republican. In an interview yesterday with The Hill, he explained why he sees his role among the extremists and sociopaths as vital to the nation's political health.
“I’m staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there,” he said. “I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system. … And I’m afraid that we’re becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party.”

At the same time, Specter said he is open to the possibility of running as an Independent with the understanding that he would caucus with Republicans, just as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) did with Democrats in 2006.

Though he left that option on the table, he suggested it would be a last resort.

“It’s pretty hard to run without a party,” Specter said. “It’s always something that could be a possibility. But then I wouldn’t be in the Republican caucus-- wouldn’t have quite the standing as a Republican.”

The decision would be harder for Specter, too, because Pennsylvania state law does not allow someone who has lost a primary to run as an Independent, as Lieberman did. Specter would need to decide to run without a party in advance of the primaries.

He would like to open Pennsylvania primaries to independent voters as a way of combating far right extremist Pat Toomey, a candidate loathed statewide-- and sure to lose the general election-- but popular among the dittoheads and rednecks in the back hills who have been left behind, as more and more traditional Republicans-- traditional Specter voters-- have migrated away from the GOP. Only 40% of Pennsylvania voters are registered Republicans-- and in the last two congressional cycles the Republicans have not just lost a U.S. Senator (extremist icon Rick Santorum by a 2,357,058- 1,658,853 landslide) but have seen their congressional delegation shrunk by 5 members. In 2004 there were 13 Republicans and 6 Democrats in the PA House delegation. Today there are 11 Democrats and 8 Republicans and two Republicans are on the "very endangered" list, Charlie Dent and Jim Gerlach. McCain, who promised to make Pennsylvania competitive, only managed to attracted 44% of the votes last November, even worse than his national average.

Clownish, incompetent RNC Chair Michael Steele seemed to have threatened to finance a primary against Specter, further acerbating the rift between Specter and the Grand Obstructionist Party. He has voted more frequently with the Democrats in the Senate than any other Republican-- including the far more electorally secure Olympia Snowe of Maine-- and on crucial issues is about as dependable a vote for Democrats-- or for Republicans-- as Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska! The most highly charged piece of legislation facing Congress this year-- Employee Free Choice-- will win or lose by one vote: Specter's, and even his Republican allies back home are telling him if he votes to break the anti-union filibuster that McConnell has promised-- and as Specter did in 2007-- they will not support his re-election bid.

At this point, it looks like his decision on how to vote on EFCA cloture will determine whether he will run for re-election as a Republican or as an Independent (with AFL-CIO backing).

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At 7:08 PM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

Back and to the left.


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