(Also by Joe Guzzardi: Oh, No! Arlen Specter Represents Me In the US Senate! and Arlen Specter Marches On—Or At Least He'd Like To)
With Ted Kennedy gone, only John McCain matches Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's record for subverting America, with his ceaseless endorsement of amnesties and increases in non-immigrant worker visas.
But his upcoming November 2010 reelection campaign, Specter faces one insurmountable challenge.
Specter is 79 years old. Worse, he looks and acts every year of it.
Earlier this month, Specter crisscrossed Pennsylvania promoting Obamacare. At each stop Specter made, the impression he left with the voters, even senior citizens, is that it's time for Specter to give it up. (See FOX News video here at about 1:30)
Let's be brutally honest. Because of his advanced age and various cancer scares, Specter could not qualify for any job in America except the U.S. Senate.
Specter's career, analyzed objectively, is one of few accomplishments but constant political maneuvering to keep himself in office.
No one knows what Specter stands for—not even Specter.
Earlier this summer, Specter returned to the Democratic Party which he first abandoned for the GOP in 1965 to run against Philadelphia's incumbent district attorney.
Today, to avoid a strong Republican primary challenge election from former U.S. Representative and strong immigration reform candidate Pat Toomey (who in 2004 nearly defeated Specter in the primary), Specter jumped ship back to the Democrats.
Specter could conceivably overcome his age handicap if that were his only problem.
But by returning to the Democrats, Specter made a series of miscalculations that separately or combined will force him out.
First: Specter will have to get past a fight within his new party. Congressman Joe Sestak, allied with immigration patriots on enforcement, has announced that he will go up against Specter.
According to the latest polling results, Specter leads Sestak by 48 percent to 32 percent. While this may appear a comfortable margin, the pollster observes that for a 29-year incumbent, Specter's lead is "paper-thin" and predicts that that the numbers will be a "dead-heat" within months.
The pollster also compares today's results to 2004 when, in the six months leading up to the primary, Specter led Toomey by 52 percent to 20 percent only to barely hang on to eventually win by 2 points.
Further evidence of Specter's shaky status: Among those polled who recognize both Democratic candidates, Sestak is ahead 52-42. You can be sure that by the November 2010, every Pennsylvania voter will know Sestak.
Furthermore, the polls also indicate that Sestak does better among many key Democratic groups that might be perceived as Specter's best constituencies: conservative Democrats and registered Democrats who self-identify as either Independent or Republicans.
Overall, this puts Specter in the awkward position of having only the left-wing and less politically engaged segments of his newfound party as his starting base.
This is problematic because Specter, viewed as a Republican turncoat, will be attacked from the left and because the liberal media, again associating him with the GOP, will be anti-Specter. If those challenges are vigorous enough, they will cost Specter votes.
What it boils down to is whether in the end voters think Specter changed parties because of ideology or to save his skin. Specter has already shamelessly confessed to the latter. [Specter Switches Parties To Win Reelection, by Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor, April 29, 2009]
Overall, the potential for the rapid evaporation of Specter's lead is clear.
None of this guarantees that Sestak will win but suggests that Specter will not win by a large amount, if he prevails at all.
Second: Specter erroneously expected that Pennsylvania Democrats would embrace him. So far, that hasn't happened.
Specter is like a political novice seeking direction from the state party movers and shakers.
In a study of Specter's Pennsylvania popularity as a Democrat, Politico.com reported that Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chairman James Burn received his obligatory call from Specter two weeks ago.
Burn came away with this impression:
"Voters have to get to a comfort level with him as a Democrat that does not exist yet. If the primary were tomorrow and there were one or two other formidable contenders in the race, I wouldn't say with any certainty that he would win."
Earlier this month, Specter spoke with the eight Pennsylvania regional Democratic caucus chairs by telephone. Most reached the same conclusion: endorsements will have to wait.
My new home town of Pittsburgh represents a major stumbling block in the Specter strategy.
According to Real Clear Politics, in the 2004 GOP primary, every county in metropolitan Pittsburgh voted for Toomey over Specter—and Specter failed to register higher than 4 percent in several of them.
Specter's narrow victory in that primary resulted entirely from sweeping Toomey in metropolitan Philadelphia. But that city now has fewer votes and therefore plays a smaller role in the statewide Republican electorate totals.
In the 2004 general election, Specter ran behind George W. Bush in six of the seven counties in metro Pittsburgh—even though he won the state by almost eleven points and Bush lost it by two and a half.
Going back to 1992 - the last time Specter faced a tough general election challenge - his opponent, Lynn Yeakel, won six of the seven Pennsylvania counties that border Ohio. [Score Another for Anita Hill, Time.com, May 11, 1992]
An inescapable irony is that Specter, the Republican, was once popular with Democrats because he often broke with his party. Now that he's a Democrat, Specter's new party views him with suspicion.
And it does so with good reason.
In an insightful review of his Congressional voting record, Open Left.com discovered that Specter moved to the right (except on immigration) during twelve consecutive Congresses.
That assessment provides Sestak with a cornucopia of items to choose from to destroy Specter's Democratic credibility.
Here are two dandy ones: YouTube videos with Bush and Rick Santorum promoting Specter as "the right man". Both messages were "authorized" by Specter. Watch them here and here.
Third: Specter most certainly thought that the Democratic Party would be the safest place from which to launch his next campaign. That's untrue today and will be even less true by November 2010.
Right now, Democrats are synonymous with the failed stimulus bill and bail out plans, a massive $9 trillion dollar projected federal deficit, unpopular Obamacare and an undisguised effort to bring illegal aliens out of their ever-present "shadows", as Obama recently promised in Mexico, and ram an amnesty down American's throats.
Despite Obama's promise to Specter made when he converted to the Democrats that he would support him, I don't look for it to happen.
Obama, already losing political capital by the bushel with each passing day, will do the minimum—if that—for Specter. The worse Specter's chances for reelection become, the less Obama will be involved.
Four: although Specter converted to the Democratic ticket to avoid facing Toomey in the primary, he'll likely meet him in the general election. That's bad news for Specter, trailing Toomey head-to-head as of today by fourteen points.
Immigration reform patriots' best hope is to get rid of the useless Specter no matter what combination of events it takes to get the job done.
A victory by either Sestak or Toomey victory would represent a Congressional double-dip for us. We get rid of Specter, one of the worst on immigration, and replace him with an immigration moderate.
The most intriguing question to pose to Specter is one that may not ever be asked: Why would an 80-year-old man who has achieved more status than he ever imagined was within his reach want to carry on in the Senate? Why doesn't he want to go fishing?
The answer, which Specter certainly would not give, is that he's an egomaniac, possibly senile—and not the least concerned about America's interests.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.