Democrats Pardoning Specter For Horrific Votes

Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party is already blinding many Dems to his horrific George W. Bush voting record.  Scores of people who protested the war in Iraq, torture, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, the shredding of the Bill of Rights and the other innumerable crimes and offenses of the Bush Administration are already lining up to pardon Snarlin’ Arlen and re-elect him to the Senate.

Gov. Ed Rendell and President Barack Obama are leading the charge much to their shame.  How could you campaign against everything President Bush did then embrace one of his chief enablers?  Sen. Specter was actually quite a reliable vote for W.  Everything from military tribunals, the denial of due process rights, destroying the separation of powers, in all of this Sen. Specter was there with his strong support for Bush.  He was a pivotal figure in the politicization of the Department of Justice and inserted the provision enabling AG Gonzales to fire prosecutors.

But now Democrats are suddenly blinded to this by one simple act:  Arlen Specter changed his Party affiliation.  Wow, it doesn’t take much to brainwash Democrats does it?  Talk is that Gov. Rendell has, once again, promised to clear the primary field of challengers as he did in 2006.  Isn’t it time for Ed Rendell to simply go away and allow the people of Pennsylvania to select their Senators?

Joe Torsella’s days as a candidate are numbered and numbered in single digits.  His campaign was supported with Rendell money and that will now evaporate.  Ed Rendell has been dictating for too long now and today is the day Pennsylvania Democrats finally need to restore democracy to their Party.  Reject Rendell, Specter, torture, wars of choice and the underming of our rights and reject this imposition upon your choices.  I will vote Green again if Arlen Specter is the only Democrat allowed to run.  Do NOT take away our rights as citizens tor un for office or vote for whom WE choose.  Gov. Rendell has no right to choose who can run and who cannot.

PA-Sen: The Potential Democratic Primary Pool

( – promoted by John Morgan)

{Originally posted with poll at my blog Senate Guru.  Head over to vote in the poll.}

With conservative former Congressman Pat Toomey set to challenge incumbent Arlen Specter in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll see a bloodbath in which Specter is labeled a convictionless flip-flopper and Toomey is dubbed an unelectable right-winger.  No doubt both Specter and Toomey will spend the bulk of their resources just to get through the primary, leaving the eventual Republican nominee politically battered and financially near-broke, having to re-build a bankroll from almost scratch.

Naturally, this raises the question: who do you want the Democratic nominee to be?  With the Republican nominee starting the general election in rough shape from a bloody primary, and with Pennsylvania Democrats continuing to grow their voter registration edge over Pennsylvania Republicans, Democrats are in the driver’s seat.  Without further ado, here is the cattle call of potential candidates, in alphabetical order:

District Attorney Lynne Abraham

During late-December of last year, both KYW Newsradio 1060 Philadelphia and CBS-3 Philadelphia reported that District Attorney Abraham was considering a bid.  As for bio, she was head of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in the 1970’s and subsequently a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  She has been District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia since 1991 and has won four elections during her tenure – but she has already announced that she is not running for re-election to the post this year.  A knock on her as a candidate, though, is related to the strength of her resume: in 2010, she will turn 69-years-old.  I don’t imagine she’d plan on seeking several six-year terms to build her seniority.

State Representative Dwight Evans

The 54-year-old State Representative is a powerhouse in the state Legislature as the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, having served in the state House for nearly thirty years, but has also had his share of electoral losses.  He finished third in the 1986 Democratic primary for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, finished third in the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and had fifth-place showings in two crowded Philadelphia Mayoral runs in 1999 and 2007.  Still as the Democrats’ Appropriations chief for nearly twenty of his thirty years in the state House, he has wielded considerable power for a long time.  The Executive Director of the PA-Dems was talking Representative Evans up this past January as a possible 2010 Senate candidate.  Representative Evans has done a great deal to improve Philadelphians’ lives, but has had difficulty translating that success in bids for higher office.

Congressman Patrick Murphy

At only 35-years-old, Congressman Murphy, an Iraq War veteran now serving his second term in Congress, is considered a rising star in the Party.  Some of his pluses are quite obvious: his military experience brings unique perspective and his relative youth would allow him to build seniority over the years for Pennsylvania.  According to the National Journal’s 2008 Vote Ratings, Congressman Murphy was the 187th most liberal member and the 240th most conservative member – in other words, he was fairly centrist.  Given the political carnage that is expected at the end of Specter-Toomey: The Sequel, PA-Dems may want to elect someone more liberal than Congressman Murphy has been.  Also, while Congressman Murphy appears to be a more-than-decent fundraiser, as of the end of 2008, he had just under $150,000 on hand, with just over $100,000 in debt, which means he’s starting from nearly scratch on the money front.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz

Now serving in her third term, Congresswoman Schwartz is one of only two women in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation.  Her bio includes: executive director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center, a Planned parenthood clinic in Philadelphia, ’75-’88; acting Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, ’88-’90; State Senator, ’91-’04; Congresswoman, ’05-present.  According to the National Journal’s 2008 Vote Ratings, Congresswoman Schwartz was the 112th most liberal member and the 316th most conservative member, i.e.she was a bit to Congressman Murphy’s political left.  Also, known for being a strong fundraiser, she closed out 2008 with just under $2 million on hand and no debt.  On Election Day 2010, Congresswoman Schwartz will be 62-years-old, suggesting perhaps only a tenure of two-terms tops if she ran.

Congressman Joe Sestak

The 57-year-old military veteran is in his second term in Congress.  After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1974, Congressman Sestak picked up an M.P.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard before embarking on an impressive naval career.  According to the National Journal’s 2008 Vote Ratings, Congressman Sestak was the 150th most liberal member and the 277th most conservative member, putting him in between Congressman Murphy and Congresswoman Schwartz in the ranking.  Also a very solid fundraiser, Congressman Sestak ended 2008 with over $2.9 million on hand and no debt.  Back in December, Congressman Sestak’s office suggested that he wouldn’t be a candidate for Senate in 2010; however, with the new political dynamic of the combative Republican primary, perhaps Congressman Sestak might reconsider.

State Representative Josh Shapiro

Like Congressman Murphy, Representative Shapiro is only 35-years-old.  He is in his third term in the state Legislature, and was named Deputy Speaker of the House in his second term.  Prior to his time in the state Legislature, Representative Shapiro spent about eight years on Capitol Hill working for several elected officials, including service as Chief of Staff to Congressman Joe Hoeffel, Arlen Specter’s last Democratic opponent.  Representative Shapiro has met with the DSCC to discuss a possible bid; and, he has begun an aggressive outreach campaign to determine whether or not he’ll run.

State Board of Education Chairman Joe Torsella

The 45-year-old Torsella has worn many hats: state Board of Education Chairman, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning for the City of Philadelphia under then-Mayor and now-Governor Ed Rendell.  He also ran for Congress in 2004 and narrowly lost the Democratic primary to now-Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who won her first term in that election cycle.  He is also the only announced candidate for Senate in 2010 on the Democratic side, though he has yet to launch a campaign website (that I can find, anyway) despite having announced two months ago.  It is rumored that Torsella enjoys the support of Governor Rendell’s political machine behind the scenes.  Through contacts from his numerous civic roles and possible assistance from the Rendell machine, Torsella was able to raise a respectable $600,000 in Q1 (having only started campaign fundraising in mid-February).  The amount is enough to demonstrate capable fundraising, but far from strong enough to scare off primary challengers, especially members of Congress with seven-figure campaign bankrolls.

State Auditor Jack Wagner

Auditor Wagner began serving as a statewide official in this capacity in 2005, succeeding Bob Casey Jr., who, of course, defeated Republican Rick Santorum for Senate in 2006.  Prior to his tenure as Auditor, Wagner spent a little over a decade in the Pennsylvania state Senate.  Auditor Wagner is also a Purple Heart recipient from his time with the Marine Corps in Vietnam.  Auditor Wagner is the only person on this list from western Pennsylvania, which could provide a geographic advantage.  On Election Day 2010, Auditor Wagner will be 62-years-old, like Congresswoman Schwartz, suggesting a limit to his possible tenure in the Senate.  Additionally, it’s been reported that Auditor Wagner has told friends that he will not run for the Senate seat.

Former State Treasurer Robin Wiessmann

Former Treasurer Wiessman had a largely financial services background before filling the remainder of Bob Casey’s Treasurer term after he ascended to the U.S. Senate.  She spent the 90’s as President of Artemis Capital Group and went on to serve as a Vice-president at Goldman Sachs.  She also put in a stint as Deputy Director of Finance for the City of Philadelphia.  If Wiessman was interested in a prolonged political career, one suspects that she would have run for Treasurer last year instead of ceding the office, though.  If she does decide to run, fundraising won’t be as difficult as it would be for other first-time candidates as her husband is reportedly a major Democratic fundraiser.

With Governor Ed Rendell serious about retiring from electoral politics and with current state Treasurer Rob McCord in only his fourth month in the role and having expressed no interest in a Senate bid thus far, this appears to be the pool from which a Democratic nominee will arise.  You’re encouraged to make your case for your candidate in the comments.  If there is someone you would like to see as the Democratic nominee in PA-Sen who hasn’t been listed, share your thoughts in the comments, as well.

Senate Race Shaping Up

The 2010 U.S. Senate race is heating up amidst all sorts of speculation.  National blogs, radio and TV are speculating on this contest.  It appears Arlen Specter’s re-election effort will be of national interest.  Snarlen’ Arlen’s vote for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act has triggered waves of anger from the Republican right wing.  Oh, excuse me, all that’s left of the GOP is their right wing.

Therein lies Specter’s problem.  Our senior Senator has always been a centrist and has always sung to his own drummer.  Pat Toomey came within 17,000 of defeating him in 2004 in spite of support from Rick Santorum and George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.  Since 2004 the Pennsylvania Republican Party has lost tons of voters.  The likelihood of another squeaker win for Specter against Toomey seems remote.

Enter Peg Luksik.  The anti everything extremist actually makes Toomey appear sane.  She has run statewide before and has garnered some impressive vote totals for a fringe political operative.  Now that she has announced her candidacy she may be Arlen Specter’s savior.  Luksik would siphon votes from Pat Toomey, not Specter.  She could very well be the spoiler Specter needs to win the Republican primary.

All the fun in this race appears, at this point, to be in the GOP camp.  The solitary Democrat who has publicly announced a candidacy is Joe Torsella.  The suburban Philadelphia manager ran for Congress against victorious Allyson Schwartz in 2004 then oversaw the creation of the National Constitution Center.  If you haven’t been there it is a must see stop in Philadelphia.

A Specter/Torsella race in the general, at this distance, seems to favor Specter.  If either Luksik or Toomey win this race is a tossup.  Will Peg Luksik and Pat Toomey come to some sort of accommodation to avoid helping Specter?  This will be interesting to watch.

Speculation that Specter will switch parties in order to keep his seat are fanciful in my opinion.  This would be a desperate move by a desperate candidate.  With Luksik in the race as a third candidate Arlen has a safe passage to victory.  If he deserted the GOP I’m not sure Democrats would embrace him.  Specter supported most of the Bush agenda and he wholly supported the radical Supreme Court Justices appointed by Bush.

I suspect Specter will either remain a Republican and face a battle or retire gracefully.  The man has been very ill since right after his last election and, at age 80, may decided an ignominious defeat in a primary is no way to polish his legacy.  He would not be able to run as an independent after losing a primary.  Pennsylvania doesn’t allow Lieberman stunts.  Specter has two real choices:  run in the primary or retire.  I sincerely doubt he would change parties.

The upcoming vote on the Employee Free Choice Act may yet change the dynamics of this campaign.  Republicans have mounted a massive disinformation campaign in order to support their corporate benefactors.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsed Specter in 2004 and a promise by Bill George for another general election endorsement might sway Sen. Specter to vote for EFCA.  If he sees his future as over in the GOP he will be able to vote his conscience on EFCA.  There’d be no winning a Republican primary if he goes along with labor on this vote, three way race or not.  Republicans will have enough rope to hang Specter and then it’ll be a matter of which extremist loses this seat for the GOP, Toomey or Luksik.