Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pennsylvania 2010: Senate

The state in which I reside, Pennsylvania, was an important factor (one might even say, a "keystone") in the 2008 presidential race, both in the Democratic primary, and the general election. But there wasn't much going on at the state level.

Next year, however, there will be elections for both governor and U.S. senator.

Republican Senator Arlen Specter plans to seek a sixth term in the Senate, at the age of 80. He is 12th in seniority, fifth among Republicans.

He is the Ranking Republican on the Committee on the Judiciary. Specter chaired that committee during the last two years of the most recent period during which his party controlled the Senate (2005-2007). That entailed presiding over the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Specter long ago established an odd niche in American history, as one of the key staff members of the Warren Commission, which was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the assassination of his predecessor, John Kennedy.

In the Senate, Specter has been further to the left than most Republicans. In 2007, the American Conservative Union gave him a rating of 40 (on a 100-point) scale, making him the third least conservative of the Senate Republicans. In fact, according to the Patriot-News, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper, there has been serious talk, which Specter has rejected, of his switching parties.

This Congressional Quarterly article gives some background on Specter's electoral history, as well as his upcoming reelection campaign.

The identity of his opponent(s) is not yet clear, but his sixth Senate campaign is shaping up to be similar to past races. Specter may well face a challenge from the right in the primary, and then may or may not come up against strong Democratic opposition. To once again quote my favorite philosopher: it's déjà vu all over again.

No comments: