Arlen Specter is a sitting U.S. Senator who, last year, switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party after polls showed him trailing his primary opponent. Now polls show him trailing his Democratic primary opponent. Slate recently published an interesting article concerning whether it would have been better for Specter to run as an Independent.
Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for bringing this story to our attention and for his interesting comments on the subject:
Ironically, in 1997, Specter tried to make Pennsylvania ballot access far more difficult. He used his influence with Pennsylvania Republican legislators (who were in the majority in both houses) to get a bill through the legislature, quadrupling the number of signatures for independent and minor party candidates. The bill passed, but fortunately Governor Tom Ridge vetoed it.
The reason Specter tried to make ballot access for independents and minor parties more difficult back in 1997 is because he was up for re-election as a Republican in 1998, and he hoped to prevent the Constitution Party from getting a candidate on the ballot against him. Specter has always been pro-choice, and he had seen how well the Constitution Party had polled in the 1994 Pennsylvania governor’s race, when the Republican Party nominee for Governor had also been pro-choice. As things turned out, Specter was overwhelmingly re-elected as a Republican in 1998. Although the Constitution Party did get on the ballot against him, it only polled 68,377 votes.
Interestingly, the Constitution Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Peg Luksik, from that 1994 race is in the 2010 Senate race also, as a Republican this time. The 1998 Constitution Party Senate candidate was Dean Snyder. In 2004, however, Specter faced another Constitution Party Senate candidate who scored over 220,000 votes, or roughly 4%. That candidate’s name was Jim Clymer, who is now the National Chairman of the Constitution Party.