Arlen Specter had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Monday. Democrats were expressing bewilderment as to why the president would contemplate giving his support to Specter for nothing, that is, without firm commitment on key portions of the president’s agenda. Then there was more bad polling news for Specter showing him losing to Tom Ridge and only narrowly beating Pat Toomey.
Clearly, Democrats had every reason to get nervous. Politico summed it up: a serious case of buyer’s remorse. But the day got worse. Andy Stern piped up in an evening interview with ABC’s Rick Klein (who earlier in the day reported another labor leader’s simmering annoyance with Specter):
“There’s no way they’re ever going to be supporting someone who is seen as thwarting this opportunity,” Stern told ABC. “It is hard to imagine any union supporting a candidate in the Democratic Party for the US Senate who doesn’t have strong positions on both healthcare and Employee Free Choice.”
Stern stressed that he is not endorsing any candidate. Though Specter has maintained his opposition to EFCA — a position he reiterated yesterday on the Sunday talk shows — Stern said he hopes Specter will ultimately support a compromise.
“No one’s going to get exactly what they want,” he said. “So the question is, where is his flexibility, on not letting his idea of perfection stand in the way of progress.”
Labor leaders in Pennsylvania, Stern said, “will evaluate where he stands not just based on what he says, but what he does.” [Rep. Joe] Sestak supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it far easier for workers to form unions, but which is fiercely opposed by business interests that are casting the bill as a job-killer.
Well, perhaps the Democrats won’t take Specter as their standard-bearer if he doesn’t toe the line. (Or if he does, and the voters cannot stomach such duplicity.) Then what — an independent run, maybe? There’s always the Green Party.