Arlen Specter Gets Crime and Drugs

Taegan Goddard passes along reports from NBC that, “In an apparent effort to to ease the tension over Arlen Specter’s bumpy transition into the Senate Democratic caucus, Sen. Dick Durbin is willing to voluntarily relinquish his chairmanship on a Judiciary subcommittee to Specter” and that therefore “Specter will become the Chairman of the Crime and Drug Subcommittee.”  A pretty nice concession, given that the “Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs is considered the most prestigious of the subpanels on Judiciary, because it has jurisdiction over as much as 70 percent of the Justice Department’s budget and is responsible for writing crime and drug sentencing laws.”  It’s not a total loss for Durbin, who will pick up chairmanship of a revived Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.

An interesting move, considering the Senate voted two days ago to strip Specter of his seniority.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    I’d say it’s a reaction to the idea that without the appearence of some serious weight to throw around in Congress, Specter doesn’t stand a bleeding chance in ’10

  2. markm says:

    I’d pay money to Harry Reid’s campaign if Specter is given the McGruff gig and Harry strips him of that too.

    And what Bithead says. Without some relevance on some committee he’s just another turd and surely there are better turds in Pennsylvania.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    Apparently Ridge is not running. That makes Toomey pretty much a sure thing, which not coincidentally means the GOP has no shot at the seat.

    So the question now is if the dems feel like leaving it in Specter’s hands or giving it to someone like Sestak.

  4. markm says:

    Apparently Ridge is not running.

    All I’ve read is that he’s being urged to run…did he say no?.

  5. hcantrall says:

    Sen. Leahy Blocks Democrats’ Deal to Give Specter Judiciary Subcommittee Chair

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/07/source-durbin-gives-specter-judiciary-subcommittee-chair/

  6. Bithead says:

    That’s what I’ve been hearing, too, Mark.
    Until this morning, that is.

    I don’t have any links on it yet, but I’m hearing within the last couple hours he’s not going for it.

    Actually, I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve never been happy with Ridge running there, for a lot of reasons. But, I wonder what he’s got on his mind; the rumbles give no hint of that point.

  7. markm says:

    …what’s Leahy’s site for taking campaign donations?….

  8. markm says:
  9. An Interested Party says:

    Actually, I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve never been happy with Ridge running there, for a lot of reasons.

    Well then you must be happy about the seat staying in Democratic hands, as a wingnut like Toomey has no chance of winning the general election…

  10. Bithead says:

    Well then you must be happy about the seat staying in Democratic hands, as a wingnut like Toomey has no chance of winning the general election…

    Untrue.
    Toomey shows as being only a couple points down, and that poll was taken prior to Specter being stripped of his seniority. More, Toomey has a history of winning races in that area, particularly Democrat- dominated Beaver County by an impressive margin.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    re: Bithead | May 7, 2009 | 01:59 pm

    Which poll would that be? The one done by the GOP-friendly polling group? Pardon me if I don’t put too much faith in that poll…and Toomey may have a history of winning, but history is the operative word…Pennsylvania has changed from the days when it would elect someone like Toomey or Santorum statewide…

  12. Tlaloc says:

    A couple of points, bit?

    Specter would look much stronger, however, if the GOP nominee winds up being his 2004 primary opponent, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). In that matchup, Specter leads 53-33.

    That was from Quinnipiac from May 4th, as in three days ago.

  13. Tlaloc says:

    More, Toomey has a history of winning races in that area, particularly Democrat- dominated Beaver County by an impressive margin.

    Toomey has won a total of three races for congress, all in the house. Those were in 1998, 2000, and 2002. None of those years did he face a very hostile electorate. And his win in 1998 is partially attributed to Ridge’s very successful governor candidacy. He’s been out of government since 2004. That being the case I don’t see how Toomey is quite the fearsome candidate you suggest.

  14. Bithead says:

    Yes, I’ve seen that one, and two others. The two others are within a point or two of each other. The Quinnipiac poll, being so far off the others, I consider an outlier at the moment.

  15. Bithead says:

    None of those years did he face a very hostile electorate.

    I’m interested… on what basis do you asume the electorate will be more hostile to him than to the Democrats who so badly treated Specter, to their view?

    Remember, too, that Specter faces a primary challange.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    I’m interested… on what basis do you asume [sic] the electorate will be more hostile to him than to the Democrats who so badly treated Specter, to their view?

    Perhaps that is based on the fact that a large chunk of voters have switched their party affiliation from R to D and now Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania by a nice margin…and if Specter were to get beaten in the primary by, say, Sestak, all the better for the Democrats in the general…

  17. Don’t forget Toomey’s congressional district was at the time majority Democrat and contained Pennsylvania’s third largest urban area.

  18. sam says:

    Toomey has as much chance as as fart in a whirlwind of being elected in the general.

  19. sam says:

    Ridge’s withdrawl make this post by Nate Silver somewhat anachronistic, but it’s interesting (and amusing — check the way Nate signaled Specter’s party affiliation. Well I was amused.):

    12. Pennsylvania (R– D-Specter)
    In some sense, this was the first victory of the 2010 cycle for the Democrats — although considering Specter’s voting record thus far, it looks as though it might be something of a Pyrrhic one. Nevertheless, this is now considered a Democratic seat, and this rating now reflects the Republicans’ odds of winning it back in 2010, either against Specter or another Democrat like Joe Sestak.

    A Republican comeback is unlikely if the uber-conservative Pat Toomey is the Republican nominee. But if ex-Gov. Tom Ridge runs — and wins — instead, he would be a formidable opponent. The catch is that it isn’t clear how Ridge, like Specter a moderate, pro-choice Republican, will escape the problems that drove Specter from the party, as what’s left of the GOP base in Pennsylvania is highly conservative and pro-life. We should know more in a week or so — if you’re a Pennsylvania voter and weren’t at Citizens’ Bank Park watching the Phillies and the Mets get rained out, you were probably getting nonstop phone calls from pollsters.

  20. Bithead says:

    Perhaps that is based on the fact that a large chunk of voters have switched their party affiliation from R to D and now Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania by a nice margin…

    That’s hardly a recent change, having been in place for the last three or four cycles at least. And Toomey won in that environment. Try again.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Umm, actually, the largest switch in party affiliation occurred in the last election cycle…the last time Toomey won a general election was in 2002, and, of course, that was only in one congressional district, not statewide…sorry that you seem to be allergic to the facts…