Since joining the Democratic Party, Sen. Arlen Specter has voted against the bankruptcy reform bill, and the Obama budget. Specter has also claimed that he won’t be a loyal Democrat, and that he won’t support the Employee Free Choice Act. If Arlen Specter won’t show loyalty to the state’s Democrats, then why should they show loyalty to him in the 2010 Democratic primary? Democrats need to weigh their options before they support Arlen Specter.
The reality is that Specter made a deal with Ed Rendell and Joe Biden for 2010. He is expecting a clear path to the Democratic nomination next year. Well Mr. Specter, we Democrats aren’t going to rubber stamp your nomination if you continue to vote against our interests. Unlike Specter, Rep. Joe Sestak supports the Employee Free Choice Act.
Specter made waves on Meet The Press Sunday when he said,” I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with a 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose cloture on, on key issues. But I… I did not say I’m a loyal Democrat. You know, I read once another mistake in the newspaper, some newspaper.”
The question then becomes, if Arlen won’t support EFCA, which at one time he was a sponsor of, then why should we support him? This along with Specter’s support of many George W. Bush policies should make PA Democrats question what they are getting if they support Sen. Specter. If the Republicans nominate Pat Toomey, who is a fringe candidate at best, any Democrat will win. If Tom Ridge is the Republican nominee, Arlen Specter will not be the kind of strong Democrat that is needed to represent the party.
The White House endorsed this switch because they need Specter’s vote to pass healthcare. They want healthcare reform more than anything else this year. This is their motivation. I would argue that the people who put this deal together never considered what is good for Pennsylvania Democrats. We deserve a Senate candidate that will reflect our values. I am not convinced that candidate is Arlen Specter.
Rep. Sestak has been all over cable news making the point that Specter needs to prove himself to Democratic voters. He is correct. When Sestak says, “We are at such a critical point in Pennsylvania’s history, and our nation’s, that who you are running against pales in comparison to what are you running for. So while Arlen’s decision may be good for himself, politically, to avoid running against someone he could not beat, his decision begs what he is running for, and whether he is the best candidate to shape the future of Pennsylvania,” he is right.
Specter’s vote on healthcare may be good for Democrats in 2009 or 2010, but will it still look as good in 2011 or 2012? Democratic primary voters owe it to themselves to pick the best candidate possible. Specter has been saying the that there was no deal to clear the primary field for him, but I find that hard to believe.
That candidate may or may not be Arlen Specter. The final decision doesn’t belong to the White House or Ed Rendell. The decision rests with rank and file Democrats across the state, and it is these people who will decide if Arlen Specter deserves to represent them in the general election.
My initial reaction to Specter’s switch was that it was a good move to pick up a seat for the Democrats, but if Specter is not going to represent the state’s Democrats then, we need to find a candidate who will. Arlen is acting like he is still an incumbent Republican with nothing to lose. I think that he could use a wake up call.