When Arlen Specter switched parties back in April, he realized that some of his former supporters might regret having donated money to someone who was no longer a Republican. He made a concession: “Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.”
That could wind up being a costly promise. Specter has raised $11 million this cycle, and only has $7.5 million on hand. That said, some donors have a lot invested in Specter and won’t want their money back. And many others might want their money back, but either aren’t aware of his promise or won’t bother to make the request.
Well, the Club for Growth has stepped up to the plate to do something for that latter group. They have offered to contact Specter’s donors and help them ask for their money back. Yesterday they received legal permission to do so:
The FEC’s decision provides another political headache for Specter, whose transformation into a Democrat has attracted more challenges than expected. Specter acknowledged that he switched parties in part to avoid a bruising primary fight with former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), who nearly beat him the last time around and was running well ahead in polling among GOP voters. But now Specter also faces a challenge from the left by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.), who argues that Specter is not a true Democrat.
Thursday’s ruling means Specter also will face a concerted effort to drain his finances by the Club for Growth, which was previously headed by Toomey. Although the Specter campaign gave back more than $200,000 during the second quarter of this year, that amounts to a small fraction of the nearly $11 million he has reported raising since his last election in 2004, according to campaign finance reports. As of June 30, Specter reported $7.5 million on hand compared to $4.3 million for Sestak.
Specter is clearly encountering unexpected trouble in his primary against Congressman Joe Sestak. This just made his task harder. There’s no way to know how much money the FEC decision will cost him, but one thing is certain: he has less money to work with now than he did yesterday.
And there’s also this delicious possibility to consider: when he changed parties, Specter made sure to get the full support of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Ed Rendell. They have already scheduled fundraisers for him. Now, their support seems likely to be more expensive, and every dollar they raise for Specter is a dollar they can’t spend defending Democrats in Connecticut, Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Delaware, and several other endangered seats. And can you picture the reaction when the Democrat base realizes that the president, Joe Biden, and the DSCC are raising money so Arlen Specter can cut checks to Republican donors?
How’s that party switch working out for you now, Democrats?
Cross-posted to theconservatives.com