At a press conference new Democrat Arlen Specter stated that he won’t be an automatic 60th vote for the Democrats. He promised to maintain his independence, and cited his continued opposition of the Employee Free Choice Act as an example, but Specter announced that President Obama will campaign for his reelection in PA.
Specter said, “My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.” (In short, Arlen will still be Arlen).
Specter made an interesting and critical distinction. He called The Employee Free Choice Act a bad bill. What he did not say is that he disagreed with card check, which leaves wide open the possibility that if the Democrats come up with a bill that he feels he can support, he will support it. Specter was one of the few labor endorsed Republicans, so I think there will be some changes to this bill, and Specter will end up supporting it.
Specter talked about how the Republican Party, and politics in general, has shifted away from moderates. He used Joe Lieberman as an example of how difficult it can be for a moderate to win a primary. Specter will be a pain in the butt for Democrats sometimes, but as the Republican Party continues to go hard right, he is a better fit with the Democrats than with the Republicans.
His contempt for Republican primary voters was obvious, “Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.”
He mentioned that the Republican Party in has moved far to the right, and that this became clear to him after his vote on the stimulus bill. Now that Specter doesn’t have to kiss up to the state GOP anymore, his anger towards them flashed a few times.
As if Arlen wasn’t enough of a powerhouse in the state on his own, he said that President Obama has offered to come in to the state and campaign for his reelection. Specter promised to butt heads with his fellow Democrats is they are wrong and stupid. (It was a joke).
Specter seems genuinely relieved to be out of the Republican Party. This is the happiest that I can remember seeing Specter in front of the press in years. I think that he made the right move for him, not only for 2010, but ideologically. Specter will not be an automatic Democratic vote, but he is a reasonable moderate, who there is really no place for in the current GOP.