If you were listening to the radio yesterday afternoon, you might recall Neal Conan's interview with Sen. Arlen Specter
While the talk of the Specter's switch will certainly revolve around the national political ramifications — you know, what with Al Franken being the potential 60th vote for the Democrats if Norm Coleman loses his appeal at the Minnesota Supreme Court — NPR's reflection on the interview offers a different take.
All politics is local, and Sen. Specter was concerned about his ability to win a Republican primary in 2010, or so the subtext goes:
Specter: Well, it is true that the polls are bleak. When I voted for the stimulus package, one of just three, and was in position, along with Senator Snowe and Senator Collins, to provide the decisive votes, there was a very strong adverse reaction. There was a resolution filed in state committee to censure me. The state chairman and the national chairman said they didn't know if they could support me. My office was picketed. And it's a tough proposition. I've overcome some challenges before, and I'm working on a game plan.
The Atlantic's Mark Ambinder offers a Cliffs Notes analysis of the switch.
Time flies. Two weeks ago, Specter said he'd be a Republican forever.
Tom Scheck is running down the implications of Specter's change on Minnesota's Senate race. He's got the reactions from the Franken and Norm Coleman campaigns on Polinaut.
Now, imagine the onus on Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Democrats want Franken to have the election certificate, oh, yesterday, while there will no doubt be pressure from Republicans to a) find a way for Coleman to win or b) keep Franken out of the Senate for as long as possible. It's been clear for a while that the race would have to pivot around Pawlenty before it comes to a conclusion.
Update: Pawlenty says the switch won't affect the Minnesota Senate race. He wouldn't say when he'd issue the certificate, except to say he'll follow the court's direction.
"We're going to follow the law with respect to the Franken/Coleman litigation and when and how a certificate gets issued," Pawlenty said. "So again, the situation with Pennsylvania has no connection or impact on what's going to happen in Minnesota."
Assuming the state supreme court rules in Franken's favor, Pawlenty needs to certify Franken in order to keep his (Pawlenty's) own political career alive.
Pawlenty's fantasy of becoming POTUS in the '12 election borders on insanity given the vast disorder and far right orientation of the Republican party. He should do the right thing by certifying Franken and consider himself lucky to be Governor of Minnesota. This is a bad time to be a Republican and particularly a moderate Republican.