Brief of the Week March 30, 2009

SPECTER’S CARD-CHECK REVERSAL: Last year, Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter was the lone Republican senator to support the union-backed Employees’ Free Choice Act (EFCA) that contains the controversial “card-check” provision that would eliminate the secret ballot in union elections. But, facing a stiff primary challenge from the right in his bid for re-election next year, the 79-year-old Specter announced last week that he would not back cloture on the filibuster of EFCA and would oppose the measure if it came to the Senate floor this year. With three Democratic senators already on record as opposing the controversial legislation, it now appears fairly safe to declare EFCA dead for at least this session of Congress. But conservatives in the Keystone State were not impressed. “When Sen. Specter does a flip-flop, it’s worth checking the fine print,” said conservative former Rep. Pat Toomey (R.-Pa.), who is expected to challenge Specter for renomination next year. “On the Senate floor he said, ‘I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.’ In other words, if he thinks his political fortunes have improved, he will deny workers a secret ballot after all.” A Quinnipiac poll completed just before Specter’s statement on EFCA showed Toomey, who drew 49% of the vote against the senator in the ’04 primary, beating him among registered Republicans statewide by 41% to 27%. The same poll showed 47% of Pennsylvania GOPers disapprove of Specter’s performance and 70% disapprove of his vote for the Obama stimulus package.