Specter, Stripped of Seniority, Backtracks On Coleman Support


It seems as if Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) will have to earn the trust of his new Democratic allies--and he is starting by backing away from his apparent show of support for Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman.

Meanwhile, in an unexpected move, the Senate on Tuesday night stripped Specter of much of his congressional influence by revoking his seniority on the committees on which he serves.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) read on the Senate floor yesterday a resolution making Specter the most junior Democrat on four of his five committee assignments. It stood in stark contrast to Reid's supposed promise that the Pennsylvania senator would retain his seniority if he switched from the Republican to the Democratic party.

Specter could have a chance to reclaim his seniority on influential committees such as the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees after the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats have suggested.

To stay in favor with his new party, however, Specter will likely have to avoid comments such as those made to the New York Times on Tuesday--Specter said he wanted the Minnesota Supreme Court to declare Republican Norm Coleman the winner in the state's prolonged senate race.

Democrats want candidate Al Franken to prevail over Coleman in order for the party to attain a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate.

Perhaps realizing the consequences of such remarks, Specter quickly changed his tune. He told Congressional Quarterly on Tuesday that he would like to see more Democratic members elected in the 2010 midterms.

"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," Specter said. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."