Saturday, March 7, 2009

Party Invitation

It's not just bloggers -- The Hill is speculating about the possibility of Arlen Specter joining the Democratic Party. Part of the analysis is that Pennsylvania has closed primaries so only Republicans can vote, and lots of moderate Republicans there have switched their registration to become Democrats in the past few years. What's left of the Pennsylvania GOP is more conservative than it was when Specter beat Pat Toomey 51-49 back in 2004. Toomey is running again, and it's going to be hard for Specter to beat him by talking about how conservative he is and then beat a Democrat by looking moderate.

Much simpler to just avoid the whole obstacle course and become a Democrat.

8 comments:

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

Obama's approve-disapprove among Republicans is about 50-50, right? I think Specter's best bet would be to recruit a third challenger and have him split the not-Arlen vote.

John said...

Switching to the Democratic Party would mean Specter would have to move his voting pattern farther to the left, something he may or may not be comfortable doing. Of course, joining the Dems might mean a chairmanship in the next Congress if they recognize his seniority. Then again, the Dems might be more comfortable mounting a challenge against Specter than welcoming him into the party.

ikl said...

My gut level reaction is that I don't think that this will happen. Specter seems like a guy who calls them like he sees them (or at least is highly invested in seeing himself that way) and switching parties to get himself reelected doesn't seem consistent with that. I think that he might be willing to go down fighting in the primary if it comes to that. He also presumably has lots of friends in the PA GOP who we doesn't want to burn.

On the other hand Specter was a Democrat before he ran for DA. I have also heard him say that he was a Republican because he thought that he could do more good in that party by providing a moderating influence - this was before the Republicans lost control of Congress in '06. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Republican ideology. So you never know. But I don't think that a party switch is likely at this point . . .

Neil Sinhababu said...

Nick, can that kind of gambit actually work? Or will people figure out that one of the challengers is just a sock puppet?

John, I'm guessing that Democratic leaders would much rather take him in than risk not beating him.

I don't have any particular insights on Specter's personality, ikl, but like you I wouldn't take an even-money bet on Specter switching, even with the strategic case as strong as it is.

drip said...

Nicholas -- you made me laugh. It's not a bad idea; he could lose the primary and run on the Leiberman Independent line on the ballot.

John -- Specter is a pure opportunist, however he views himself. On any important issue, he starts by saying one thing, leaving himself some wiggle room, and ends up voting the other way. As to moving left, if he got a chairmanship out of it (and he probably would) he would do anything Reid asked, including painting his house. This is without saying that he is already to the left of at least 10 democrats in the senate now.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Actually, drip, Pennsylvania ballot laws keep him from pulling a Lieberman. If you lose a primary, you gone.

drip said...

I was just kind of laughing at Specter's predicament but you can't run in the general election if you lose a primary? You're, what, debarred from participating? I'm not sure that makes any sense. Can you run without a party endorsement? Can you be nominated without a primary? Jeez, maybe he will switch parties because that guy loves to talk and there is nowhere you get to talk like the Senate.

cmo101 said...

I still don't understand why, if he switched to the Democratic Party, he wouldn't face a primary challenge from the left. The same problems he faces in a Republican Primary he would face in a Democratic Primary. Much more likely to go independent now, get on the general election ballot as an independent and win the middle with a D and an R on either side of him.