Old habits are hard to give up, and that seems especially true for newly-minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.
Tales from the Trail
Newly minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter made a relatively quiet debut as an official Democrat on Thursday — his desk was moved to the other side of the aisle.
Reaction among Republicans to Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to defect to the Democratic party ranged from somber disappointment to outrage, and now the Republican National Committee hopes to capitalize on that anger.
Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, 79, of Pennsylvania appears to face a tough run next year for reelection to a sixth term.
And he can blame his problems largely on his decision last month to break ranks with fellow Republicans and vote for President Barack Obama’s $787 economic stimulus package.
Those are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of about 1,000 Pennsylvania voters released on Wednesday.
The Connecticut-based university found that Specter, viewed as a moderate, trails former conservative congressman Pat Toomey, his likely Republican primary challenger, by a margin of 41 percent to 27 percent. Specter narrowly defeated Toomey in a 2004 primary battle.
Another and somewhat smaller poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania was a mixed bag for Specter.
While the survey showed Specter leading Toomey 33 percent to 18 percent, it found that 49 percent of respondents were undecided or favored others.
That survey of 662 people also found that less than half — 40 percent — believe Specter deserves another term, with 46 percent saying it is “time for a change.”
The Quinnipiac survey showed Democrats and independents backed Specter’s support of Obama’s stimulus package. But Republicans opposed it — 70 percent to 25 percent.
Both surveys were conducted in recent days and had a margin of error between plus or minus of three to four percentage points.
“Pennsylvania Republicans are so unhappy with Sen. Specter’s vote for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and so-called pork barrel spending that they are voting for a former congressman they hardly know,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Richards added, however, if Specter survives the primary, he would have a lot going for him in the general election since there currently seems to be no strong Democratic contender.
But Specter faces other problems.
He stepped into a political hornet’s nest on Tuesday when he opposed a bill to make it easier for workers to unionize, a top legislative goal of organized labor but anathema to many in the business community and his own party.
So if Specter wins the Republican primary, he can expect to be opposed by energized union supporters in the general election.
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U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, 78, managed to crack a few jokes and talk about his faith on Wednesday as he vowed to fight a recurrence of cancer and seek reelection in 2010.