Specter Loses the Bet
Via the NYT: Specter Defeat Signals a Wave Against Incumbents:
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who left the Republican Party a year ago in hopes of salvaging a 30-year career, was rejected on Tuesday by Democratic primary voters, with Representative Joe Sestak winning the party’s nomination on an anti-incumbent wave that is defining the midterm election.
There is no doubt that the current mood was one of the variables that figured into Specter’s loss, but in his case it is impossible to ignore that he his loss is also about a gamble taken that did not pan out. Specter calculated that he could not win the GOP primary and so switched parties, brazenly (yet, honestly) stating that he was doing so so that he could stay in officer. He did not make a principled argument for his party switch.
The real question for Pennsylvania is whether the Democrats will retain the seat or not. As such, the exact ramifications of the primary remain to be seen in terms of the longer-term governing implications. Ironically, the general election contest is probably the same as it would have been had Specter stayed in the GOP: Toomey v. Sestak (Sestak, Toomey hit campaign trail in Phila.).
The Philadelphia Inquirer has Specter’s political obit: The end of the Specter era.
Update: The BBC’s Katie Connolly rightly notes:
It’s tempting to see anti-incumbent sentiment in the defeat of Senator Arlen Specter, but that race says more about the unwillingness of Democrats to embrace the former Republican.
Democrats should worry though, that the vaunted turn-out machine of Democratic Gov Ed Rendell failed to deliver for Mr Specter in Philadelphia. It also casts doubts over the White House’s political judgment – they backed Mr Specter from the start.