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Specter: Club for Growth Overplays Their Hand Again; Democrats Aren’t Even in the Game

graphic by twolf1

So, Arlen Specter is switching parties. Who would’ve thought? Well, not Harry Reid, on March 27:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Pa.) decision to reject “card-check” legislation has ended any chance of a party switch.

Reid as well as Vice President Biden, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) have tried recently to persuade Specter to leave the GOP.

Great, Harry. I’m in. You deal.

Three things we can learn from this experience:

1) Once again, the Club for Growth overplayed their hand. After taking out Lincoln Chaffee for insufficiently kowtowing to the whims of rich bankers who don’t want to pay their taxes, they put their money on Pat Toomey to drive Specter to the right. Richard Mellon Scaife, Steve Forbes and David Koch all doubled-down on Toomey and Specter was forced to crawl to Grover Norquist. But before you put the hard squeeze on someone like that, you better make sure they have nowhere to go. Specter did. Too bad for them. They’ve successfully boiled the Republican Party down to a thick sauce of lizard-brained extremists so thoroughly tribal they’re incapable of rational thought. Bust!

2) The Democrats seem to be unaware that there is a game on at all. They are saying that they won’t field a candidate to challenge Arlen. Well, that’s smart. Just let him control everything that happens in the Senate like he does now, and watch him move to the right as he continues to compete with Pat Toomey for the conservative vote. Hey, guess what? Primaries work. . . especially when the candidate has nowhere to go. Specter can’t go back to the GOP, so the best way to move him into the "D" camp is to run a primary challenger against him. Make him compete for the hearts of Pennsylvania Democrats before he gets to Toomey, because they may want to see an actual Democrat take the seat.

3) Senate Democrats counting on Specter to keep them from having to take a vote on EFCA are probably looking elsewhere to cover their bets (and that may have inspired the recent mass defection). Arlen may be saying "I think it is a bad bill, and I’m opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture," but he is now running for office in a state that has 900,000 union members. Bob Casey got 2,357,058 votes in 2006 to beat Rick Santorum’s 1,658,853. Is Specter going to stand tall as a man of principle and gamble with that many votes? Well, I guess it depends on which principle we’re talking about. Arlen was an EFCA sponsor in 2007, so the only cause he’s really got is himself. If I were Tom Donohue, I’d be crying in my beer. Because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s got the cards now.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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