Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Info on Torsella, Sestak and Kortz

I searched the nonpartisan Project Vote Smart website for "Torsella" but got no result. However, I did find his announcement press release from February, which has a lot of biographical detail.

Here's the Project Vote Smart interest-group ratings page for Sestak (which has links to more info on him).

So far I haven't mentioned state Rep. Bill Kortz, who has also announced he's running for the Senate seat. He told Pa2010 today, "I'm still in it."

Project Vote Smart has a longer voting-record page for him than they do for interest-group ratings of him.

Follow SpecterWatch on Twitter

Here's the page:

How to Help Keep PA Senate Options Open

Want to keep Democratic options open for the PA Senate race? Send a message of encouragement to Joe Torsella and/or Congressman Sestak (or even a pledge of support, if you're so inclined).

Torsella's still in. And Sestak doesn't seem ready to defer to Specter either.

Thanks to a member of the Facebook group for this:
Here's Joe Torsella's campaign contact info in case anyone wants to send him encouragement and/or cash:
P.O. Box 230
Flourtown, PA 19031-0230

There are ActBlue donation pages for Torsella and Sestak.

This is the contact info listed on the Joe Sestak for Congress campaign site -- the site also has a "Contribute" link:

by Phone: (610) 891-8956

by Email:

Mailing Address: PO Box 16, Media, Pennsylvania 19063

0 for 2: Another Major Post-Switch Vote from Specter: No on Mortgage 'Cramdown'

Excuse me for a moment while I go bang my head against the wall.

As the New York Times reports:

The Senate on Thursday handed a victory to the banking industry by defeating a Democratic proposal that would have given homeowners in financial trouble greater flexibility to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages.

And Specter was on the wrong side of this one. Daily Kos front-pager Meteor Blades has a good writeup on this: Getting Worse Before Better. Senate and Specter Fail to Help

To be fair, 11 other Senate Dems did the same -- aarrgghh. But check out below where they're from -- except for Carper maybe, none of them are from a state like PA that Obama carried by 11% last fall.

Max Baucus (Mont.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Carper (Del.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ben Nelson, (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.)

(Not that we should even buy the stuff about "but I'm from a conservative state, so I have to kiss up to big business"anyway -- would the homeowners in Arkansas who would be helped, and their families and friends, really consider their senators evil liberals for voting for this?)

As Daniel Urevick-Ackelsberg put it well at Young Philly Politics today:

Currently, bankruptcy judges can cram down mortgages for vacation homes. But they can't do the same for distressed people who didn't have the good sense to buy a second house.
Go, Arlen, you progressive hero. The financial services industry needs heroes like you!

About That 'Fabled' 60th Vote

One of my favorite columnists, Gail Collins, makes an important point:

The fabled 60th vote! Finally, the Democrats can override filibuster threats and pass the Obama agenda! Except that even as Specter was arriving, his new fellow party members were reminding their leaders that they reserved the right to gum up the works at a moment’s notice. “They might have a 60-member majority. That doesn’t mean they have 60 votes,” warned Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who is busy trying to block the Obama student loan reform bill.
The real import of this story isn’t the 60 votes. It’s that Arlen Specter, with his unparalleled instinct for self-preservation, became a Democrat because the people of Pennsylvania like the Democratic agenda better. And the Republicans were too fanatical or deluded to allow him to straddle the line.

I would add this: As Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of Daily Kos, wrote recently, we've got enough Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate now to start emphasizing the "better" part of "we need more and better Democrats."

Ruh Roh. Not So Fast on Those Chairmanships and the Seniority Deal?

That's the word from The Hill newspaper:

Under his deal with Reid, Specter would jump ahead of all but a few Democrats when it comes time to dole out committee chairmanships and assignments.

“That’s his deal and not the caucus’s,” the senior lawmaker said of Reid’s agreement with Specter.

It doesn't appear to be just a power thing either.

Specter was chairman of Judiciary in the 109th Congress when Republicans controlled the chamber, and ushered through the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

“He was going to lose to Toomey and we were going to beat Toomey,” said the senior Democrat. “We did him a favor by allowing him to remain in the Senate.”

Facebook Group

If you're on Facebook, feel free to check out or join the group (also created this week) that led to this blog -- the group is called "Keep Specter Honest / Senator Specter: Act Like a PA Democrat."

The group's purpose is "Now that Sen. Arlen Specter's switching to be a Democrat, let's keep the pressure on him so he votes like a PENNSYLVANIA Democrat and not a 'conservadem' (conservative Democrat) from Nebraska or the South."

Dow Jones Newswires: 'Specter Defection Likely To Have Little Impact On Major Debates'

Here's an interesting article:

Specter Defection Likely To Have Little Impact On Major Debates

One issue on which Democrats must be hoping that Specter does change his views is the Employee Free Choice Act, better known as the 'Card Check' legislation, which Specter has opposed.
This legislation would make it easier for unions to organize in the workplace, a top priority of the labor movement, which was a strong backer of President Barack Obama's drive to the White House.
At a press conference Tuesday, Specter cited his opposition to card check as evidence of his continuing independence.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that Specter had only voiced opposition to the legislation in its current form, noting that there could be a new iteration of the bill coming down the pike.

Specter's First Big Vote Since Switch: No on Obama Budget

From CNN:
The Senate voted for the plan 53-43. Four Democrats, including recent party-switcher Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, voted against it.
(Longer report from AP here.)


Thank goodness we didn't actually NEED his vote on the budget resolution. But is this a sign of things to come for how he may vote on future major votes like universal health care (including the key question of including a public option in it), and the Employee Free Choice Act (which he still opposes)?

Yes, give him his due for his vote on the stimulus. Absolutely. But he needs to know that Democrats are watching how he votes. The Republican base certainly did, and that had to have played a role in forcing him to reverse course on the Employee Free Choice Act, for example.

So, welcome to Specter Watch.