Specter to Become a Spectator?

While Congressional races in Indiana drew attention two weeks ago, a brighter national spotlight is shining on Senate primary votes Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky. Part of the intrigue is whether a couple of Democratic incumbents will become lame ducks.

The focus is on senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas (challenged by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter) and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (facing Rep. Joe Sestak).

Runoffs are possible for both parties in Arkansas as a third candidate could keep Lincoln or Halter from getting 50% of the vote. On the Republican side, Rep. John Boozman is the favorite but there are eight other candidates on the ballot and he was polling below the 50% mark.

Those polls place Boozman ahead of both Democrats in general election matchups, but Lincoln has a huge advantage in cash on hand.

Specter’s much-publicized departure from the GOP came, at least in part, because he believed he wouldn’t win a primary battle against former Rep. Pat Toomey. Now he is in a close battle against Sestak, who has successfully used the message that he is the real Democrat in the race. The two Democrats and Toomey also have substanial bankrolls for the fall.

Kentucky features a pair of close battles. Ophthalmologist Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, is leading Republican establisment favorite Trey Grayson (current secretary of state). On the Democrat side, two current top state officials — Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, are in a dead heat.

Two incumbent primary victims thus far have been Sen. Bob. Bennett (R-Utah) and Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-West Virginia). I’ll take a guess that Specter might just joing them. Either way, Tuesday will be another lesson about the anti-incumbent mood among voters.

There’s No “R” in Specter: Senator Changes Parties

Many national outlets are reporting that moderate U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has switched parties and is now part of the Democrat majority. No doubt, this is a major story and has significant implications for this Congress and the agenda going forward as the Democratic Party is now one seat closer to the magical number of 60.

Reports are also indicating that the main, or at least a major, reason why Specter is switching parties is that he feels he stands a better chance to be re-elected as a Democratic candidate than a Republican candidate does. If this is true, outrage should follow by the citizens of Pennsylvania. Putting his own selfish political interest ahead of what is best for his state and country in these tough economic times is exactly why so many Americans are incredibly fed up with the politics coming out of Washington D.C.

Now, if Specter’s reason is based solely on his philosophy and belief he is now a Democratic legislator and should thus be recognized as such, fine. However, to make a switch late in the fifth of a six-year term on the heels of what is expected to be a tough re-election effort smells of the self-preserving attitude that has become far too common among many elected officials.

If this politically calculated, self-interested attitude is driving this decision, I hope that someone — a Republican or Democratic candidate — replaces Sen. Specter in 2010 and will serve the good people of Pennsylvania and the country with the wishes of the taxpayer first.

Feel free to add your comments and start a discussion on the topic of elected officials switching parties.

Editor’s note: Here’s a list of some other well-known political party switcheroos.