Could Specter change sides?


Could Arlen Specter become a Democrat? That’s what some are speculating after the AFL-CIO privately told Specter that it would back him for re-election if he supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, according to Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line. Combined with the tough GOP primary challenge Specter is facing from the right, it might be a shrewd move — although it’s not clear Specter has expressed any interest. Here’s Sargent:

This is significant, because it represents a big incentive for Specter to switch parties — and to support Employee Free Choice. Specter may be facing a serious GOP primary challenge from Club for Growth head Pat Toomey. If he loses that — or pulls out of the GOP first and becomes an Indy or a Dem — supporting Employee Free Choice could give him the organizational muscle from labor and Democratic support he needs to prevail in a general election and hold his seat.

The labor strategist tells me that top AFL-CIO officials have told Specter they’ll back him to the hilt if he supports their top priority.

“If Senator Specter supports working people — particularly voting with us on Employee Free Choice — the AFL-CIO will support him 100 percent of the way, whether in a primary or a general election,” the strategist says.

AFL-CIO spokesperson Eddie Vale declined comment.

Interestingly, because labor support would actually hurt him in a GOP primary, AFL-CIO’s promise also is an incentive to switch parties earlier, rather than later. Some analysts think his only hope of holding on to his seat is to switch parties and prevail in a general election, something which labor backing would make easier.

EFCA, a top priority for the labor movement, would make it easier for employees to form unions, lifting the requirement of a secret ballot election.

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