Skip to comments.Specter Campaign Crumbling
Posted on 11/08/2004 7:49:54 AM PST by Anti-Bubba182
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the White House suggest Sen. Arlen Specter's (R.-Penn.) campaign to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee may be crumbling just as it began. Still, opponents of Specter's run face an uphill battle.
Specter's comments, the day after the election, warning Bush about sending up pro-life judges, have ignited in a firestorm that could sink Specter's bid. A grass-roots lobbying effort using the internet, phones and fax machines has bloomed, tying up phone lines of Republican Senators.
Despite his presumption to the chair, Specter is still in the position of needing to convince a majority of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and a majority of the Senate Republican Conference that he is the best man for the job. Conference rules explicitly state that a committee chairman, "need not be the member with the longest consecutive service on such committee."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) is the current chairman, but newly instituted GOP term limits on committee chairmanships require him to step down. Second in seniority is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa), but conference rules prohibit the chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee to chair any other committee. Grassley has repeatedly said he would not surrender the Finance gavel.
Next in seniority is Specter. Conservative Hill staffers, though, are quick to point out that he is far from guaranteed the spot. The rules explicitly discounting seniority are new, as are the term limits. Hatch would be among the first chairmen to surrender his gavel despite being the senior committee member and having no other major chairmanship. In short, Hill staffers point out, we are on unprecedented turf.
Some GOP Senate staff began in the summer to consider skipping over Specter and electing the No. 4 member on the committee, Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.). That plan was aborted, but Specter's comments have revived it. Kyl has a lifetime ACU rating of 97% to Specter's 43%.
The early deliberations of electing Kyl over Specter sprang from reflection on Specter's 24-year record in the Senate. Specter was the most important player in the 1986 rejection of Robert Bork for the high court. He is also staunchly pro-choice.
Business interests are also worried that a Chairman Specter would derail the President's tort reform agenda, and at least one business representative plans on making that known on the Hill this week.
The chairman is elected by a majority of the Republican members of the reconstituted committee. Committee member Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) has suggested he is undecided on whom he would back for chairman, telling the AP, "We'll have to see where he stands."
Currently, there are 10 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. Committee staff conjecture that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) would like to leave Judiciary. Republican leadership hopes they can get 11 GOP members on the committee after reorganizing the Senate.
That would leave two vacancies. Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), one of the Senate's leading pro-lifers, wants a spot. Presumably the other vacancy would be filled by a freshman. Of the incoming freshmen, Sen.-elect David Vitter (R.-La.) and Sen.-elect Mel Martinez (R.-Fla.) are lawyers.
Another committee Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) owes his job to Specter in a perverse way. Specter was key in defeating Sessions' appointment to the federal bench during the Reagan Administration.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), also on the committee, has gone on the record about the situation telling the New York Times, "The original comments attributed to Senator Specter were very unnerving . His statement clarifying his position is reassuring, and I hope we will work our way through this."
Much of the election of a chairman will rest on the input of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) and Conference Chairman Sen. Rick Santorum (R.-Penn.). Neither has publicly commented, but Santorum saved Specter from certain defeat in his April primary by campaigning for his Pennsylvania colleague.
Top Bush advisor Karl Rove said on "Meet the Press" Sunday, "Senator Specter is a man of his word. We'll take him at his word" regarding support for President Bush's appointments. Rove also said, about the chairman election, "That's up to the United States Senate to decide, not the President of the United States. And just as we wouldn't like them to decide who are the staff assistants of the White House, they certainly do not want us determining who's committee chairman on the Hill."
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I am delighted to read this.
YES! Keep the heat on, people! This guy's a snake and will do whatever he can to slither out of the mess he got himself into. Don't let up until this Democrat with an 'R' by his name is OFF the committee!
What is best and most effective way to keep the heat on Specter?
I faxed a letter to all the republicans on the committee on Friday. First time ever I've done that. This is too important.
I've emailed/called my Senators and the judiciary members. you should, too. www.senate.gov
You should also email the president and vice-president. Here:
Oh, and the GOP for some pure political push:
Ed Gillespie, Chairman
Maria Cino, Deputy Chairman
Stop Specter Now:
Excellent. Nice to have a good talent pool.
Where can I learn more about this Jon Kyl? At first blush, he sounds like the right man for the job.
He is the darling of the left now, as McCain was.
It appears that the developing strategy now is for the senate repubcan conference to either abolish its term-limit rules (which are ridiculous in the Senate anyway) or waive the rule so Orrin Hatch can continue as Judiciary Chairman. Specter cannot be rejected as Chairman if he is never in line to be Chairman in the first place. And the Republicans avoid a massive media explosion over Specter.
It sort of reminds me of Tom Foley telling the voters of his district that term limits were a bad idea and the achieving the loss of his Congressional seat while the Speaker of the House.
I swear some of these people get to the point where they believe they are ten feet tall and Bulletproof. There is no such thing in American politics.
I was going to send you to his senate website, but it's swamped right now.
We should have supported the democrats over Specter. We'd still have a Senate majority and Specter wouldn't have the power to push a RAT agenda.
Call or FAX Frist, Santorum and all of the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee. Do it.
Much of the election of a chairman will rest on the input of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) and Conference Chairman Sen. Rick Santorum (R.-Penn.).Frist is the key on this one. If he can't take a principled stand here, where and when will he ever take one?
There. Fixed it.
Stop Specter Ping!
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