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Why Did Arlen Specter Join the Democrats?

If Arlen Specter jumped ship to become a Democrat because he thought he'd feel more welcome and get more respect, he got a rude awakening. I'd say he's singing the Rodney Dangerfield blues about now. From the Washington Post:

The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter's hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian's party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.

In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a resolution that added Specter to the Democratic side of the dais on the five committees on which he serves, an expected move that gives Democrats larger margins on key panels such as Judiciary and Appropriations.

But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.

"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.

Specter's office declined to comment.

Without any assurance of seniority, Specter loses a major weapon in his campaign to win reelection in 2010: the ability to claim that his nearly 30 years of Senate service places him in key positions to benefit his constituents...

Without that seniority, though, Specter, 79, would not even hold an appropriations subcommittee chairmanship in 2011, a critical foothold Specter has used in the past to disperse billions of dollars to Pennsylvania.

Arlen Specter left the Republican party because he no longer felt welcome. He said the Republican party has moved too far to the right. Of course he was roundly criticized for his votes, most of which were cast in opposition to the Republican party's core principles, but the party never stripped him of his seniority or his committee leadership positions. To do so because of how he voted would be disrespectful. And as Hermie rightfully pointed out in the comments below, the GOP also backed Specter in his reelection bid over Toomey, whose principles are much more in line with the GOP's, with money and campaign support.

Senator Specter actually belongs in the Democratic party and should have been there all along because his views are a better fit for him than the GOP. The only reason he had not been with the Dems all this time is because it was never politically expedient for him. Back in 1980 when he had been a Democrat for years, the only way he could get into the Senate to begin with was to run as a Republican. Now, he has returned to his original home in the Democratic party, you know, the folks who are so tolerant and open mined.

Update: Ed Morrissey points out how differently Jumpin' Jim Jeffords was treated when he moved from Republican to Independent.

Contrast this to the treatment given Jim Jeffords when he jumped to the Democrats and temporarily gave Tom Daschle control of the Senate. Jeffords kept his seniority and landed a committee chair (Environment and Public Works), and kept his seniority for committee assignments. If Reid really did make a similar deal with Specter, then his caucus just sent him a message as well, a humiliation that will make Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins think twice before following Specter into rookie status.

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Comments (24)

Old Arlen thought he'd get ... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Old Arlen thought he'd get this big payoff from Reid and Biden for switching. Now that he's burned his bridges, he's found out that not only the PA Dems refuse to roll over and let him run unopposed in the PA primary, but Reid's promises of retaining his Senate seniority were 'just words'.

Yet, he still complains about he was treated by the GOP. The same GOP whose Senate leaders endorsed him for re-election. The same GOP who gave him plenty of financial support during his runs in previous elections. The same GOP that gave him plum committee assignments despite his repeated stabbing them in the back.

What a buffoon!

Too bad, so sad... Don't le... (Below threshold)
FedUp:

Too bad, so sad... Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Arlen. You've screwed the people who elected you, now it's time for you to fold your tent and GO HOME!

This is what voting for the stick-it-to-us bill did for you. Now, enjoy!

Any chance Reid knew that d... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Any chance Reid knew that despite his "promises" Specter would get screwed on committee appointments? Admiitedly, Reid often comes across as an idiot but I just can't believe he would be this much out of touch with the Democrat caucus in the Senate.

Why does shit stink?... (Below threshold)
914:

Why does shit stink?

Reid and Biden both conned ... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Reid and Biden both conned Specter. Specter's greed and ego played right into the Dems' hands. They got a PR 'coup', while giving up nothing of significance.

The old saying applies here 'You can't cheat an honest man.'

I wonder if Specter will ha... (Below threshold)
Tony:

I wonder if Specter will have the guts to pull off the the triple double-cross in 2010.

What's the possibility he will endorse the Republican candidate in the general election if he loses his primary battle? I can see him being this bitter over losing his seniority.

Jeffords had the advantage ... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Jeffords had the advantage of providing the Democrats a majority, whereas Specter only provides the margin needed to defeat a filibuster. Of course, with the idiot twins up in Maine, a filibuster was never a strong possibility anyway.

Maybe Arlen thought that Sc... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Maybe Arlen thought that Scottish Law would be applied to protect his seniority.

I read that the final straw... (Below threshold)
galoob:

I read that the final straw might have been when SC Senator Jim DeMint told Specter that he was going to campaign for his primary opponent, Toomey.

There's no room for northeastern moderates in the GOP anymore. Look for Snowe and Collins to switch before they have to run again.

Specter knew that he was fa... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Specter knew that he was facing Toomey again, and many of the blue-ish Philly republicans had switched to Democrat registration in the last cycle to vote for Hillary Clinton, and a lesser extent, Obama. Many have not switched back.
This leaves the remaining Republican voters, most of which voted for Toomey the last time he faced off against Specter.

If Specter survived the primary and somehow defeated Toomey... he'd have depleted his cash reserves, would have to deflect any claims that Toomey made that stuck and would then face a disciplined Philadelphia Democrat machine (the dead still vote here, not just in Chicago) that would also tie him to the hated George W. Bush.

IF things go the way he hopes, he'll have no or only token opposition in the primary, and then face off against Toomey (or perhaps Tom Ridge according to the rumor mill) with plenty of cash.

Spector pissed off the demo... (Below threshold)
joel:

Spector pissed off the democrats the same way he did republicans. They figure they can blackmail him into voting party line and in 2012 give him back his seniority if he behaves.
They have pretty much held out the option of rethinking this issue in the next congress.

Maybe Arlen the media darle... (Below threshold)
914:

Maybe Arlen the media darlen just had a senior moment.

Joel: Why would the Senate... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Joel: Why would the Senate Dems reward Specter ahead of their own in 2012, since they basically own him now?

Hee, hee, hah!! And he need... (Below threshold)
Pat:

Hee, hee, hah!! And he needs to reimburse the Republican Party for all campaign $$ too!!

The democrats have zero mot... (Below threshold)
engineer:

The democrats have zero motivation for giving Specter his chairmanship back in 2010.

If the democrats pick up another seat or two in 2010, and have 61 or 62 senators, they don't need Specter's support, so no chairmanship. If the democrats lose a seat or two, and only have 58 or 59 senators, Specter being the 58th or 59th doesn't do them any good, so no chairmanship again. The only way that Specter could possibly have a chance of regaining his chairmanships would be if the democrats with Specter have exactly 60 seats, and then, it only provides a filibuster majority, provided that everybody toes the democrat's line (or Snowe or Collins don't join in).

Arlen, you got played!

Specter is an arrogant, sha... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

Specter is an arrogant, shameless, opportunistic thug. This has never changed. He has rejoined a political party made up of his ilk. He deserves anything he gets.

Couldn't happen to a nicer ... (Below threshold)
G.:

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Seems to me Specter couldn'... (Below threshold)
James H:

Seems to me Specter couldn't help opening his mouth, and that's his downfall with the Democrats. It would have been all fine and good for him to occasionally dissent from the Democrats, I think. Heck, they probably would have let him get away with a few such votes so he'd be able to prove his independent bona fides come November 2010. But by opening his mouth to assert his independence so soon, he sealed his fate.

This is what will happen ti... (Below threshold)
BillC:

This is what will happen time and time again, when anyone from the opposition, falls into the trap of attempting to work with the Democrats.

Is there anyone in the Republican Party watching this lesson play out? This is exactly what trapped George Bush and John McCain. They tried to play nicey nicey and got a whacking as soon as they were used!

I'm not particularly disappointed that it was Arlen Specter that got it this time. I can think of a few other Republicans who think that they can play both ends against the middle without repercussions and they should take notice. The Democrat leaders are only in this thing for political advantage and power.

james h - Seems to me S... (Below threshold)
marc:

james h - Seems to me Specter couldn't help opening his mouth, and that's his downfall with the Democrats.

Sure is a problem and the change of parties has him flummoxed as hell.

Asked whether he cared about a shortage of Jewish Republicans in the Senate, [Democrat] Specter replied: "I sure do. There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare [Republican] Norm Coleman the winner."
Oppsy, and then the quick retreat.
But questioned outside the Senate chamber Tuesday, Specter said the comment was a mistake.

"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," he said. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke.""Conclusively" a fucktard and the dems will rue the day, OH wait, they already do!

Re the comments: "What happ... (Below threshold)
osalt:

Re the comments: "What happened to Specter's breed of fiscally conservative, socially progressive, temperamentally moderate Northeastern officeholders? And if they can be resurrected, should they?"

The above is the name of the game for republicans to survive. Keep church and morality out of government. We are a secular governed nation!

osalt... no morality in gov... (Below threshold)
marc:

osalt... no morality in gov?

OK that means all the illegal sweetheart deals, tax cheating by members of congress and elsewhere are all A-OK.

Your friggin clueless.

#21: There's two problems ... (Below threshold)
Sean P:

#21: There's two problems with that test, as applied to Specter.

#1) Anyone who voted for the $700 billion dollar "stimulus bill" is not a fiscal conservative.

#2) Arlen Specter may be a "split the baby" kind of guy, but I highly doubt a man who earned the nickname "Snarlin' Arlen" is remotely moderate on a tempermental level.

Ironically, this test may very well apply to Tom Ridge (well, not the social "progressive" part, he's more of a social moderate), so if he runs the GOP might actually get the kind of Republican Senator that Specter had always tried to pretend he was in the first place.

Poor ol' Ailing Spectre. </... (Below threshold)
Brian Richard Allen:

Poor ol' Ailing Spectre.

Wouldn't, he said, let the Pennsylvania Republican Party Primary pass its judgment on his much-vaunted "29-year senate freeload ... um ... 'career'."

So, instead, the Pennsylvania "Democratic" Party Primary will do the job.

Sometimes the wheel of justice turns exceeding slow.

And sometimes its slicker'nsnot!

Bye, Arlen.

Brian Richard Allen
Los Angeles CalifARLENicated 90028
And the Far Abroad




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