Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, recently reborn as a Democrat in the face of a GOP unfriendly to moderates and the likelihood that he wouldn’t win a Republican primary, now seems to be setting a record for alienating people of both parties.
Specter, who earlier this week set off a mini-firestorm among some Democrats by pointedly saying that he was most definitely not a “loyal Democrat,” now has raised the eyebows..and ire…of some by saying he’s rooting for the Republican in a hotly disputed election that could determine give President Barack Obama his filibuster proof majority.. Political Wire reports:
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) said he hopes Norm Coleman (R) prevails in his Senate recount court fight against Al Franken (D) in Minnesota.
Said Specter: “There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.”
It’s one thing for a party to insist upon a litmus test. In Specter’s case, it’s as if he is actively working to flunk the litmus test in both parties. The Coleman-Franken race is a highly emotional one for members of both parties. GOPers dispute Franken’s count and want to draw a line in the sand to control President Barack Obama. Democrats believe the GOP is playing smelly political games in the courts and they want that seat to give Obama a once-in-a-generation chance to prevail over what they believe are plans by Republicans to obstruct via filibuster.
The result: more conservative Republicans than ever seen to be saying “good riddance,” despite the symbolism of the GOP losing moderate such as Specter. But the same situation may now be quickly be shaping up on the Democratic side: some on the Democratic left are increasingly stung by Specter’s almost defiant comments saying how he doesn’t have to go along with Democrats and that on some key issues he won’t. And there are increasing hints they may do something about it during the Democratic primary.
But seriously, his [Specter’s] arrogance is overwhelming, his obvious dislike for Democrats palpable…And since Obama has clearly promised him support, come hell or high water (no matter how he little support or loyalty he delivers in return), he feels like he can [treat] anyone with impunity.
Personally, I don’t want Specter around in 2011. So I to…keep opposing EFCA and Obama’s health care reform initiative, I want him to keep pretending that he’s god’s gift to the Senate. Because unlike Connecticut [where Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary at the hands of anti-war Democrats but could and did run successfully as an independent], there’s no sore-loser option if he gets knocked off in the primary. And I’ll take a real Democrat in that seat over that unprincipled turd of a man that is Specter. So Arlen, please keep it up.
ABC’s Rick Klein notes that Specter has now set it up so that he’s going to face battles from portions of both political parties:
Specter’s move ignited a firestorm in Pennsylvania and beyond. It’s left him with new enemies in both parties, even though he has a set of powerful friends that includes President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., told ABC News that while he hasn’t made up his mind, he’s closer to seeking the Democratic Senate nomination than he was before the party switch, given the way the Democratic establishment has sought to rally behind Specter before Pennsylvania voters get a choice.
“How this was done gives me grave concerns. That’s not the ideal that we came to Washington for,” Sestak said.
“I really was taken [aback] by the Democratic political Washington establishment saying, here’s your candidate, Pennsylvania,” he added. “I thought, when I came here, and when President Obama came here, we weren’t for an establishment — we’re for change.”
And a new poll has bad news for Specter: if Ridge does run against him, the former Pennyslvania Governor has a good shot at defeating him, CNN reports:
A poll of Pennsylvania voters suggests that the newest Democrat in Congress, Sen. Arlen Specter, would easily beat his old rival, Republican Pat Toomey, in a Senate race next year.
But the Quinnipiac University survey, released Monday, indicates that Specter would have a much tougher re-election fight on his hands if he faces off in 2010 against former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
Fifty-three percent of Pennsylvania voters said they would back Specter if their state’s Senate race were held today, with 33 percent supporting Toomey, the poll found.
.. But the poll indicates the race, if held today, would be extremely close if Specter faces off against Ridge, a popular former governor before joining the Bush administration after the September 11, 2001, attacks as the first director and then secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Forty-six percent of those questioned back Specter, with 43 percent supporting Ridge.
The Republican establishment in Pennsylvania has approached Ridge to run next year, CNN’s Dana Bash reports.
A GOP strategist said that while it would be a struggle to encourage Ridge to run, the former governor did not close the door to the suggestion in his private conversation with top state Republicans.
In short, Specter might need all the friends he can get — particularly in his “new” party.
But he’s not acting as if he thinks he does.
For more blog reaction go HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.