Recalibrating the Specter Detector
In a post last week, I noted that the two wildcards in Senator Arlen Specter’s recent switch to the Democratic Party were his likely expectation that his 29 years of legislative seniority would be laterally transferable to the Democratic Caucus, and the potential that his quirky brand of political egocentrism could prove to be an unwelcome handful for the Obama Administration. By those wildcard criteria, Specter’s first week as a Senate Democrat was a pretty wild one indeed. In fact, Specter’s unpredictable behavior over the past week was sufficiently annoying to his new caucus colleagues for them to strip him of any seniority, at least until after the 2010 midterm election.
For all his recent bluster, Specter seems to realize that he actually has very little political leverage here. Too much mavericky behavior on his part and he will find himself facing a serious Democratic primary challenge next year, notwithstanding any promises by President Obama and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to the contrary. My guess is that both Specter and the Senate Democratic leadership will move to quiet the situation a bit, before the accompanying media circus threatens to do real damage to both Obama’s legislative strategy and Specter’s reelection prospects.

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