Friday, May 14, 2010

Specter/Sestak dust-up

I saw a bumper sticker on the back window of a proud Tea Party/veteran's car last week that caught my eye. It seemed to speak for the vast majority of Pennsylvania's Republicans -- at least those of the far right. (Isn't that about all of 'em?)

"Benedict Arlen" -- it pronounced, a clever reference to the Revolutionary War turncoat.

I laughed, but had to admit -- as with most bumper stickers -- there was a layer of truth to it. Specter left his party after five terms because the party's value had fundamentally changed. Moderates like Specter aren't welcomed any more in GOP circles. It wasn't just that changing sides had become politically expedient. It was that his middle of the road views had become aligned with the middle class, middle of the road values of most of the commonwealth's Democrats. Specter is the same as he always has's the electorate that has changed.

Specter and has primary opponent, Joe Sestak, the Delaware County congressman, have been lobbing salvos in the form of TV advertisements at one another for the past several weeks in hopes of capturing next Tuesday's Democratic nomination for Specter's U.S. Senate seat.

The ads have been running non-stop on both local networks affiliates and on cable TV too. Both campaigns are knee-deep in gore from the bloodfest. Sestak's best broadside shows George Bush with his arm flung around Specter, calling him a "a good man, a trusted ally." Hoo boy! The guy did vote for the president's stimulus package, Joe!

Specter countered with his own ads complaining that Sestak pays his "campaign staff" (isn't that just a cute euphemism for "volunteers"?) less than minimum wage and that Sestak has made a political career out of missing votes in the House of Representatives. (How do you defeat a five-term incumbent if you're not pressing the flesh, pounding the streets and seeking campaign contributions, Arlen?).

Just as polls seem to indicate a rising tide of support for Sestak, Specter bought out his biggest cannon, at ad that shows President Obama's arm flung warmly around Specter's shoulders touting his now famous stimulus package vote and calling him a "good Democrat."

Will either one of these guys be able to survive the onslaught and stand a chance of beating the GOP's likely candidate, Pat Toomey, a knee jerk conservative who makes Barry Goldwater look like Fidel Castro in comparison.

Folks have short memories, and lots of other high power ammo is sure to come out between now and November 9th, so anything could happen.

But if Sestak beats Specter in a close primary next Tuesday, would you be willing to bet Specter won't pull a Joe Lieberman on state Democrats and run as a third party independent?

The guy can't be THAT desperate to hold onto the reins of power?

Could he?

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