Philadelphia — With the 2010 Democratic Pennsylvania State Primary scheduled for May 18, which is less than a week away, all the news has focused on candidate Joe Sestak. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports phone survey, which was conducted by Pulse opinion Research, LLC and released May 6 , he now leads the polls. He has climbed from 37 percent in March to 48 percent as of May 6. This is not exactly the biggest news in the nation, or even the state, but what makes it big is that this is a key Senate race for the Democratic Party. What makes it such a key race is that one of the Democratic candidates for the November Senate elections is an iconic Republican, Arlen Spector.
The strangeness of this comes from the history of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania and Arlen Spector. Pennsylvania has traditionally been a Democratic state. While the margins have tended to be small, approximating the general “red-blue” split in the nation, the results have been more or less predictable. In the last five presidential elections, Pennsylvania has gone Democrat by a thin, but measurable margin. The state is considered socially conservative but politically liberal. This would seem to mean that the Democratic Party is a shoe-in for November. While this is true, it does not explain why a life-long Republican is running for the Democratic Senate seat.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Arlen Spector has been a feature of US politics ever since he “discovered” the “magic bullet” that killed (supposedly) President John F. Kennedy. Every conspiracy theorist has mentioned his name at least once to explain the Warren Report was wrong. It was Senator Spector’s Magic Bullet theory that clinched the deal, proving that President Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman and that gunman was Lee Harvey Oswald.
Then why would a “dyed in the wool” conservative suddenly decide to go Democrat? The common misconception is that He recognized the warning signs of a dead Republican race and chose to go with the winning party. Wrong; last April, when Senator Spector chose to switch party affiliations he told the world why he did it. He stated he was afraid of losing the election for his party. The real reason he switched was that the polls showed him a whopping 21 points behind his competition, Pat Toomey.
Because Spector saw little hope of making up that distant difference, he decided to turn to the Democrat Party to avoid running, losing and then needing to wait until the next election to rebuild his constituency. From a conservative perspective, this meant that there was a good chance that they could have a friend in Pennsylvania too. This was banking on the fact that Pennsylvania is socially conservative and did go Republican during the 1980’s.
With Washington falling to the Liberals they (the Republicans) hoped that they would have planted a leading conservative on the democratic side of the equation , thus giving them a win either way in the critical mid-term elections, hoping to pull off another “1994.”
The Sad Truth
The reason that Joe Sestak is front and center in the news is that he is leading the PA Democratic Primary in the polls by a comfortable 12-point margin ahead of Spector. This means the possibility of an archconservative taking the Pennsylvania Senate seat is null.
This comes as a big relief for the Democrats nationally and for myself, since the loss of control of a Senate seat they had won, should Spector actually win, would weaken their position in Washington. Even though the seat would be Democratic, the consensus is if Spector is elected, he would be inclined to side with the Republicans on most issues, essentially giving the seat to the Republican Party. I tend to agree with this consensus and I am not counting on voting for Spector for this reason. If I wanted to vote Republican, I would have signed on as one.
Losing this election could actually mean the end of Senator Spector’s career. Since Spector has turned his back on the Republican Party to save his own political hide, it is unlikely he would see the light of day in any Republican seat ever again.
Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary for Senate,” Rasmussen Reports
270ToWin, “Pennsylvania Presidential Voting History,” 270ToWin
270ToWin, “2010 Senate interactive Map,” 270ToWin