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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

PA Senate Race: Win-Win?

If there was ever an election in which voting straight Democrat or supporting every Democrat is important – this is one. Even if you disagree with an individuals politics, setting the agenda would be a nice change – and something Congressional Democrats have not done since ‘92-‘94 (Senate for two short years). Then there is the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Arlen Specter looks as if he is going to easily be reelected in a state where Mr. Bush will lose on 2 November. While Democrats need every Senate seat they can get, is losing this one so bad? First, Democrats will take Illinois (Obama), Oklahoma (Carson), Colorado (Salazar), and Alaska (Knowles) away from the Republicans while only losing South Carolina (don’t count Inez Tenenbaum out) and Georgia. This would give Democrats a 50-49-1 majority in the Senate. Add in the possibility of Lincoln Chafee (who has already said he isn't voting for Bush) joining Jim Jeffords as an independent and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney having no power to appoint Mr. Kerry’s successor (legislature – filibuster proof Dem majority, say Senator Barney Frank), Democrats at least will control the Senate with a great opportunity to expand the margin by a few more in ’06.

In any case, here is the dilemma. How much support should Joe Hoeffel get? Let me throw this out here: Arlen Specter is pro-choice, anti FMA (for now), and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO once again. Next year Mr. Specter will be the ranking member on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Republicans self impose term limits on chairmanships and Orin Hatch has reached his limit. If Specter is defeated, that position will then go to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl – who is anti-choice, pro FMA, and I doubt has ever been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Considering Mr. Kerry will probably be appointing three justices in his first term, which will dramatically reshape the court, is 51 Senators instead of 50 more important than having Mr. Leahy and Specter controlling the Judiciary Committee? Mr. Kyl will certainly not be as friendly to Mr. Kerry’s nominees, and his interests, as Mr. Specter will be - ideological wise at least. Also, if by some chance Mr. Bush steals the election again (which Mr. Kerry will no doubt be more prepared legally than Mr. Gore was) wouldn’t Specter being the ranking Republican member be just as important to deny ultra conservatives from getting floor votes? True, Bush backed Specter in the primary over a right winger, but this is Specter's last term and doesn’t owe BushCo a thing.

Of course if I were in Pennsylvania I would vote for Hoeffel. He is a Democrat running for a seat in the Republican controlled Senate – and what if Carson or Knowles self destruct at the end - not to mention that he has been actively involved in the situation in Haiti. But I am just saying, there are some hidden benefits if Democrats lose this seat – most notably the make up of the Supreme Court over the next twenty years. A court that has favorable views towards labor and work place issues, choice, the environment, women's issues, public health, regulations, and more - especially what may be the next fifty years biggest issue in front of the court - personal right to privacy. I still want Hoeffel to win, but I won't be too upset if Democrats take the Senate without him. In any case, Barbara Hafer will beat Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum in '06 to give PA a Democratic Senator (Gov. Rendell will be up for re-election too... that will help).

Edit: If you googled Barbara Hafer, you probably saw her as a Republican. But that is no longer. Read Barbara Hafer makes it official: She's a Democrat again by James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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