Ben Buchwalter

Is Party Affiliation Important? For Specter, Absolutely.
March 25, 2009, 8:23 pm
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Congress, Republicans

Things are looking bad for Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter. Club for Growth Chairman Pat Toomey  said recently that he would challenge the moderate Republican when he’s up for reelection in 2010, and a Quinnipiac poll released today showed Specter trailing the ultra-conservative wingnut by 14 points.

Right wing aside, though, Specter is very popular in Pennsylvania and was expected, until recently, to win reelection pretty easily. That is, if he survived the Republican Primary.

So this raises the question: should Specter follow in Joe Lieberman’s footsteps and run as an independent? Lieberman was forced to do this when he lost in 2006 to Democratic challenger Ned Lamont in the primary. Lieberman’s popularity in Connecticut carried him through, though, and he won the general election easily.

What’s the benefit of staying with the Republican Party as opposed to becoming an Independent? Well, for a popular incumbent in a solid blue or red state, the benefits are negligible. The GOP candidate in Connecticut, Alan Schlesinger, never had a chance and even failed to get a strong endorsement from the Bush White House.

But Specter’s situation is nothing like Lieberman’s. As we know from the “battleground state” moniker often bestowed upon Pennsylvania, statewide elections are always close, making way for moderates like Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, a Democrat. Democrats will always get a lot of votes, and Republicans will always get a lot of votes. So for Specter to remain a viable candidate as an Independent, he would have to keep 90% of his supporters even while losing funding and support from the Republican Party.

So I’d say that it’s Republican Party or bust for Specter. He’s screwed unless he finds a way to cuddle up with Pennsylvania conservatives some more. This explains why he said yesterday that he would vote against the Employee Free Choice Act, which he has supported in the past.  Expect to see Specter lurch dramatically to the right a lot more in the next year and a half.


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You called it buddy.

Comment by lisabu

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