Some key excerpts:
Asked last week if he would have switched parties if he knew that he would lose his seniority, Specter smiled slyly and said only: “Well, I think we’ll get that straightened out.”
If he wins a sixth term next year, Specter remains confident he will win back his seniority at the start of the 112th Congress, but there are no guarantees when the Democratic Caucus debates the issue after the November 2010 elections. ...
senior Democrats insist this won’t be a problem in the future. They said Specter’s case was unique, given that he switched parties in the middle of a Congress strictly to preserve his chance at winning reelection next year — unlike the case of Shelby and other party defectors who switched before the start of a new Congress, enabling them to be part of the usual seniority shuffle when a new session begins.
“This is midstream,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, which advises Reid on committee assignments. “The real question will come up in the next Congress.” ...
And Specter’s case is not the first time a senior member of the Senate has lost his seniority. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) returned to the Senate after the 2002 elections — after retiring from a 19-year career in the Senate following the 2000 elections. Lautenberg tried in vain to have all his years of service counted so he could rejoin committees at a very senior level, and he was denied.
Also newsworthy today:
Sen. Specter supports Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Sen. Specter officially switched his party registration.