“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.
I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election. ” – Sen. Arlen Specter, Statement on April 28, 2009.
It must be exciting to be Specter at the moment. You’ve made a sudden change from the party you’ve been involved with since 1966. And the media is hounding you endlessly, more than usual.
Well, he’s gotta do what it takes to win in the next election and keep his position. He faces a tough fight with former Rep. Pat Toomey, with whom he fought against heavily in 2004. Toomey nearly beat Specter in the 2004 GOP primary, losing by less than 2 percentage points, according to FOX News. But Specter went on to beat his Democrat opponent by more than 10 points in November.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, put it perfectly: He said in a statement that the move was “the height of political self-preservation.”
Self-preservation it is, and political commentators predict a victory while Republicans are calling for a Specter defeat.
“I just can’t see anything but a landslide for Specter at this point,” said Clay Richards, assistant director for the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Specter’s decision has come as a shock to many of his own colleagues in the Senate, as well as to many around the nation. But in the world of politics, moves like this point to the general nature of conducting politics, namely that it is entirely unpredictable.
As Sen. Specter admitted himself, he has a slim chance of winning the Republican primary next year and sees a better chance winning if he ran as a Democrat. Obviously, if you can see yourself winning by joining the other team, you would join the other team.
But the fact is, he is still conservative minded. He said he will still “follow his conscience” on individual issues. This means that the Democratic Party’s likely 60 vote filibuster capability may not be guaranteed. And Specter is not the only conservative Democrat who could stop a filibuster effort.
Bottom line, it comes down to what the issue is on the particular bills that come through the legislative floors and individual legislators’ reactions to those bills. As history has proven, Republicans are not always Republicans and Democrats are not always Democrats when it comes time to vote.