The Campaign Spot

Specter Flips; Guess Toomey’s Got the GOP Primary Won, Huh?

A couple of quick first reactions to Sen. Arlen Specter switching to the Democratic Party . . .

1) I guess he concurs with recent polls that former congressman Pat Toomey would beat him like a drum in a GOP primary.

2) As of April 9, Specter was telling Newsweek, “I’m a Republican and I’m going to run in the Republican primary and on the Republican ticket.” Good to know his word is his bond.

3) So if you’re a Pennsylvania Democrat, how do you feel about a guy who’s been a Republican, with a lifetime ACU rating in the mid-40s, representing you? Does Specter really have the Democratic Senate nomination wrapped up?

UPDATE: Great call by the NRSC to endorse Specter. Having said that, he is already off the NRSC list of senators.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader remembers the example of Michael P. Forbes, a third-term congressman who flipped from the Republicans to the Democrats in July 1999.

The change rendered Mr. Forbes despised — Public Enemy No. 1 — by his former colleagues and his Suffolk County district on the eastern tip of Long Island, a vengeful battleground into which they poured money, operatives and vitriol. The race last summer was, for a time, the center of Republican political passions. But Mr. Forbes lost the Democratic primary by 35 votes, to a 71-year-old pro bono environmental lawyer who worked out of her own kitchen. He failed to secure spots he sought on the Right to Life, Conservative and Independence Party lines, all pretty much Republican subsidiaries. In the end, the seat was easily won by the Republican challenger Felix J. Grucci Jr., scion of a firecracker fortune, who was the Brookhaven town supervisor.

The bitterness, Mr. Forbes said, lingers on.

”The best man at my wedding was a guy named Al D’Amato,” he said of the former senator, on whose staff he worked for five years. ”I led the charge to get the Central Islip courthouse named after him. Now, because I don’t have an R after my name, we haven’t talked since July 1999. He won’t return my phone calls.”

With Specter saying he won’t change his position on Card Check, any Democratic official could run in the Senate primary and could at least count on the support of the unions. The reader adds, “If opposed, Arlen will lose the primary after his opponent runs a few hundred points of ads showing him arm in arm with Bush and Cheney. Hell, if I were Toomey, I’d run those ads.”

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Why would Pennsylvania Democrats want a senator with a lifetime ACU rating in the mid-40s? Pennsylvania’s other senator, Bob Casey, has a lifetime rating of 8, for comparison.

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