The Specter opportunity
Others think he will be reelected as a Democrat. I think it is too early to tell in his race and many others. If the economy continues to tank after the stimulus he voted for, he and other Democrats should suffer at the polls in 2010.
Sen. Arlen Specter's move from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party exposed the man for what he really is: a self-serving career politician who will do anything to try to keep his seat in the exclusive club known as the U.S. Senate. It also gives conservatives a better shot at his Pennsylvania seat.
In an editorial board meeting with us Tuesday, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, waved off Mr. Specter's move as "convenient politics" and noted that the liberal Pennsylvanian, who had been a Democrat years ago, "was already on the other side anyway." If there is a silver lining, Mr. Boehner suggested it is that Republicans finally can get a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who fights for conservative principles.
There is another upside. By switching parties, the turncoat will save former Rep. Pat Toomey the trouble and expense of another long, bruising primary challenge. As Mr. Toomey explains in an Op-Ed column on the facing page, with Mr. Specter out of the way, Republicans have a clear road to run a real conservative in next year's Senate race in the Keystone State.
Mr. Specter's announcement destroyed the myth he peddled for years that he was above politics and ideology and that his decisions merely reflected the will of his constituents. In the April 9 Newsweek, Mr. Specter assured, "I'm a Republican, and I'm going to run in the Republican primary and on the Republican ticket" and that he was "not considering" running as a Democrat. The only new factors are poll results showing him badly losing a Republican primary to Mr. Toomey. Next year's Pennsylvania Senate contest will pit principle against political opportunism. The matchup favors Mr. Toomey.