Monday, March 09, 2009

EFCA update: finally moving ahead, but with rough prospects?

I have yet to see any overly encouraging news on the Employee Free Choice Act. But they are moving ahead with it in Congress sometime soon. Politico reports:
The fight over the so-called card check begins in earnest this week, with thousands of union members and business representatives descending on Capitol Hill to pressure fence-sitters and make their arguments to the public.

TPM has a rundown on some of the swing senators and what they've said recently in their local press. The CW is that the Dems would need to hold all of their votes, plus get Specter.

It is completely unclear if they will hold all of their own votes. But about Specter: what a story. This is a man who Nate Silver now ranks as the most vulnerable incumbent Senator for 2010 -- even more vulnerable for a party switch than any of the open-seat states, like the currently-Republican seat in New Hampshire.

The news last week was that conservative radical Pat Toomey -- who nearly beat Specter in the primary last time -- may indeed be running again. Specter could, like last time, face a much tougher primary than general election -- which could mean his incentive in the coming year would be to tack right, not left. So maybe he'll vote against EFCA.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted in a feature Sunday on Specter's future:
About 239,000 Pennsylvania voters, most of them likely Republicans, switched to the Democratic party in 2008, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. That means that the GOP voters in the Senate primary next year will be more conservative, and thus less inclined to back Mr. Specter.

In the same article, an AFL-CIO official vows that if Specter does support EFCA, union members will cross over in the primary, taking a Republican ballot and supporting Specter. Touche.

Clarification: Turns out it's not quite so simple. The Post-Gazette article, in its own words, said that the AFL-CIO guy told them that
if Mr. Specter wins his union's endorsement he expects a lot of labor members to cross over in the Republican primary to vote for him.

But Pennsylvania has closed primaries -- registered Democrats can't just show up on primary day and take a Republican ballot. Sure, unions could organize them to change their registration (has to be done well in advance of the election), but that's hard to get a ton of people to do.


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