04 May 2009

Challenging Specter

So Arlen Specter switched parties. Have Democrats been too quick to get behind their newest senator?

Steve Benen offers some key insights as to why Specter might not be the team player Dems hoped to recruit. Which begs the question: Should the DNC and the DSCC necessarily rally behind the incumbent Specter?

It bears noting that, while Specter's switch certainly doesn't hurt the Democratic Party, it may not actually help the party all that much either. In the end, Specter's switch is determined from pure political survivalism. In other words, Senator Specter (D-PA) is good for Senator Specter. You don't get to be 79-years-old and one of the most senior members of the Senate by counting on others to have your best interests at stake, y'know?

With all that in mind, Nate Silver looks at Joe Sestak, Specter's most likely challenger (as of today) in a 2010 Dem primary. Progressives will be disappointed, because Sestak sounds like a candidate for the newly minted "ConservaDem" party. But still, there are some distinct advantages to not giving Arlen Specter a free ride. A little heat, Silver points out, could force the incumbent senator to vote with the president's agenda a little more often than Specter feels inclined to, so far.