Specter Abandoned by Obama, Imploding In Pa. Senate Race

May 14, 2010 06:34

After abandoning the party he called home for decades to save his senate seat, Sen. Arlen Specter is now being abandoned by the president who helped woo him into the Democratic Party. President Obama isn’t traveling to Pennsylvania to campaign for him, and his once sizeable lead over Rep. Joe Sestak in the state’s Democratic primary next Tuesday has vanished.

By: John Mercurio at Newsmax.com

In his increasingly uphill bid for reelection, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., can’t seem to catch a break. He’s a five-term incumbent during a time of fierce anti-establishment sentiment. He’s running as a Democrat, for the first time in four decades, in a year when the party is on the defensive.

And less than one week before a tightening Democratic primary, the White House announced that President Obama will not travel to Pennsylvania to campaign for him. If that wasn’t bad enough, Specter also must maneuver carefully around Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, whom he opposed for solicitor general last year. As his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, reminds Democrats, Specter’s 2009 vote is one on a long list of party-line votes he cast as a Republican.

New polls show Specter’s once formidable lead in next Tuesday’s primary has vanished. Despite a sizable financial advantage, the 80-year-old senator now is locked in a dead heat with Sestak, 58, a retired three-star Navy admiral who ousted a ten-term Republican in 2006 in the moderate Philadelphia suburbs and then won re-election by 20 points.

Specter started the race last year as a formidable frontrunner. He lined up key support from the White House, organized labor and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who predicted that if Sestak ran “he would get killed” then quickly fade “into political obscurity.”

Sestak is, to be sure, an unorthodox campaigner. He’s a lackluster fundraiser and doesn’t have a formal campaign manager. But Specter has failed to put to rest questions about his 2009 party switch, which he defends by noting the GOP’s rightward shift.

“I returned to the party of my roots. What’s wrong with that?” he said this week in Pennsylvania. “Look at what is happening to moderate Republicans around the country. You have Florida Governor [Charlie] Crist (I) getting kicked out of the Republican Party.”

Sestak has won over party loyalists with a simple recitation of key Specter votes before he switched parties: He voted to confirm Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, for example, and he supported the Iraq War. He backed the Bush tax cuts and, of course, he endorsed the GOP presidential tickets of Bush/Cheney and McCain/Palin.

In a new TV ad, Sestak attacks Specter’s reasoning for his party switch (“[it]will enable me to be reelected”), as a narrator says the senator switched parties “to save one job: his, not yours.” Perhaps even more damaging in the Democratic primary, the spot features footage of George W. Bush praising Specter in 2004 as a “firm ally.”


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