Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And There's....60!

Sen. Arlen Specter (R D-PA) shocks the political world with a party switch.

Yes, it might have been his only route for political survival. But he'd been a Republican for a long time, and even stuck his neck out by coming out against EFCA (a position which, bizarrely, he apparently is sticking to, which will make the Democratic primary as hellish as the Republican one would have been). I genuinely expected he would have retired first. But the modern day GOP is so infuriatingly alienating to his moderates that I guess Specter felt he had to take a stand.

Once Al Franken gets seated, this is a 60 seat majority in the Senate (although Specter says he wouldn't be an "automatic" vote for cloture). I assumed we'd have to wait until 2010 for that. But thanks to intractable Republican extremism, Channukah comes early.

Specter's whole statement can be found here.

4 comments:

PG said...

I see what you mean about its being bizarre that Specter would stick to being anti-EFCA from a political standpoint: unions are the backbone of the PA Democratic Party. From a policy standpoint, however, I haven't seen a good arguent in favor of the legislation. The alternatives, or even the status quo with the improved enforcement that ought to be brought by a Democratic administration, seem preferable.

Joe said...

Wow. And I read it here first.

chingona said...

Nice post here about how this is representative of the larger regional political realignment going on. Probably nothing you didn't already know, but it does a good job tying it all together. With maps!

chingona said...

And Ezra on EFCA ...

Baseless speculation: Did Specter's decision to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act force his switch? He was sort of caught between a rock and a hard place. Pat Toomey was going to primary him on the right. In past years, that was fine, as he had tacit support from elements of the left, namely the unions. But since betraying them on EFCA, the unions were promising to make Specter their main target. So if he stayed in the Republican Party he would lose the base at the exact moment that Republicans had lost their capacity to talk to independents and that the most powerful of lefty interest groups was gearing up for a massive campaign against him. He was a many with no home. By joining the Democratic Party, he could effectively neuter the unions while gaining the whole of Pennsylvania's Democratic Party machine. But he only really needed to do that because of EFCA.I'm a little unsure of the causation there because he still would have faced running as an independent (something not all states allow - not sure about PA) if he lost his primary race to Toomey.