Rendell Brings The Hammer
Yesterday Ed Rendell offered the sugar, and today he brings the spice:
I’ve just confirmed with a spokeman for Governor Ed Rendell that he will do everything he can to help the Democratic candidate defeat Specter if the latter remains a Republican or if he pulls a Joe Lieberman from the right, switching to Independent while promising to caucus with Republicans.
That’s key, for two reasons. First, because Rendell is a longtime close friend of Specter, and many thought he tacitly aided Specter in 2004. And second, because it ups the pressure on Specter to switch to the Dems.
Here’s why: If Specter loses a Republican primary — as many expect him to do — and runs as an Indy in a general election, his chances of holding his seat are slim indeed. He’d be squeezed between his GOP challenger and a Democratic challenger who has full backing from Rendell. In other words, Rendell’s vow of opposition means his only hope of survival may be switching to the Dems.
This comes on the heels of Specter refusing to rule out a possible run as an independent, a decision he would have to make BEFORE the primary (there's a "sore loser" law in Pennsylvania that forbids someone who lost a primary to run off a ballot line in the general election). Rendell played this pretty well. He pretended that he talked to Specter about switching parties, forcing Specter to deny it and throwing him further into the screaming arms of the GOP. After that carrot, Rendell is tossing the stick, saying that he would fully support any Democrat against Specter if he remained a Republican or switched to the Connecticut for Lieberman Party. Specter now has nowhere to go to save himself, and even if by some miracle he survives a primary he would be badly damaged for the general. Good move.
Markos makes a valiant effort to game out the scenarios, but Specter really has no political future. He either runs as a Republican and loses, or runs as an independent and loses. And he's closed off the Democratic option. Just a matter of time for ol' Haggis.