I supported Arlen Specter in the 2004 primary in which he faced Pat Toomey. I did so because of my belief that the senator was a fairly reliable Republican on most key votes, that he had supported Clarence Thomas and other conservatives nominated to the bench, and that he was a stronger candidate in the general election in blue Pennsylvania.
But it is very easy for me to throw in quickly for Pat Toomey, and to note as well that Arlen Specter is the best general election candidate for Toomey to draw. Senator Specter supported the non-stimulus bill and the bailouts that may not play all that well in Pittsburgh. The Dems have agreed to clear a path for Senator Specter to run as a “D,” and though that might make sense to a lot of Democrats, some are going to sit on their hands, some are going to resent the issue of switiching for personal convenience, and still more are going to wonder about the trust factor given the senator’s emphatic declaration –which will be played a few hundred times between now and November 2010– that he was staying put.
What I found very disappointing about the press conference was the dishonesty that allowed the senator to avoid noting that great conservatives had supported him in the past, like Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. The idea that poor Lincoln Chafee’s shove out the door had anything to do with the big tent GOP was ludicrous. Chafee down the line opposed the party and still got NRSC $ even when that support hurt the GOP generally. So too did Susan Collins this go around.
Arlen Specter knew he couldn’t win his party’s nomination this time, so he switched sides to keep his job. It was that simple. The race will be interesting.