The perils of Arlen: does Specter have an Elena Kagan problem?

As if he needed more tsuris in in his fight for a sixth term – this time as a Democrat – Sen. Arlen Specter, the veteran Jewish lawmaker,  now may have a major Elena Kagan problem.

Kagan is President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat of the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, and Specter – back when he was a Republican, which was after he was Democrat – voted against her last year when Obama appointed her solicitor general.

As The Hill newspaper reported today, Specter’s opponent in the Democratic primary – Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) — is making hay out of what he predicts will be a Specter u-turn.

“I expect Sen. Specter may backtrack from his earlier vote on Ms. Kagan this week in order to help himself in the upcoming primary election, but the people of Pennsylvania have no way of knowing where he will stand after May 18,” he told the Capitol Hill newspaper.

Polls show the two Democrats running neck as the primary approaches, and some political observers are wondering if the Kagan nomination may be just what Sestak needs to prove his claim that the 80 – year-old Specter is a Democratic Arlen-come-lately.

But one note of caution: I’ve been covering Specter since his first term, and every six years, like clockwork, the political press pumps out stories about how he’s facing the battle of a lifetime. Somehow, tough old Arlen always seems to come out on top, and I wouldn’t bet the farm against him this time, either.


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About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.