Specter was struggling badly in the polls. A defeat by Toomey loomed, yet he was determined to play “hard, hardball” as he said to me the other week.
His chances as a Democrat are not, at first glance, particularly good, although he should be able to win the Democratic nomination. Remember that Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, the titular leader of Pennsylvania Democrats, is a former Deputy District Attorney to Specter. They are decades-long old friends. Which means that there had to be Rendell-Specter conversations on this. Ditto with Joe Biden. Promises made, money promised for campaign purposes. Perks in the Senate. Specter is a very, very shrewd guy. But this time, it would appear that time is catching up to him. He is not unlike a man I know he admired — New York GOP Senator and liberal Republican Jacob Javits. By 1980 — the year Specter was first elected — Javits, first elected in 1956, was fighting age, illness and a challenge from the Toomey of the day in New York — Al D’Amato. D’Amato stunned by beating Javits in the primary…a mere local official, totally unknown. Javits decided to run as a Liberal. It was not enough. In the three-way in the fall with Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Javits lost.
This may be hard to see outside the state…but this is as much about generational change as it is conservative-liberal. Were Arlen Specter 50 it might be different. But he will be 80 in February. Lincoln’s Birthday, as I recall.
The opportunity to re-vitalize the Pennsylvania GOP is at hand.
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