Specter. WashPost photo

The AP has one last post-mortem of Arlen Specter's Senate career:

Specter is unlikely to go down in history as one of the great U.S. senators. But he was widely regarded as a smart, tireless and effective legislator who used his seniority to work the levers of power to serve constituents and bring home tax dollars.

Intellectually, he was head and shoulders above most of his fellow senators and showed a serious national engagement, beyond just taking care of constituents, said Stephen Hess, a former presidential adviser and a senior fellow emeritus in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"We used to tend to measure our senators on whether they were a showhorse or a workhorse," Hess said. "It's fair to say that he was both."

Photo: Arlen Specter rode the Reagan wave into the Senate in 1980, beating former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty. AP/Washington Post photo.

In an echo of their campaign against Kathy Dahlkemper, anti-abortion activists are now targeting Bob Casey (one of only three anti-abortion Dems in the Senate) in 2012 for his support of health care reform. From Roll Call:

“To really call himself pro-life is not quite right,” said Helen Gohsler, president of the Scranton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, based in Casey’s hometown.Shenanigans game

She laughed incredulously when asked whether the local anti-abortion community could support Casey in 2012. “He betrayed us,” she said.

Casey's spokesman calls shenanigans:

“Those groups were for Rick Santorum. He was their guy. They didn’t support Sen. Casey then, and they’re not going to support him now,” Casey spokesman Larry Smar said. “There’s a big difference between real Pennsylvanians and these interest groups.”

On Meet the Press Pat Toomey gave some support -- however couched -- of a Sarah Palin presidential bid in Pa. From Politico:

Sen.-elect Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) believes Sarah Palin would have shot at carrying his home state.

Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if the former Alaska governor - assuming she becomes the 2012 Republican nominee for president - could win Pennsylvania, Toomey allowed, "It is possible."

"We went into this election cycle with a 1.2 million voter registration deficit and with a Republican brand that was in a really bad way, and I still won this election," he said. "So, I think the electorate wants a return of economic growth, wants serious fiscal discipline. If they believe they've got a candidate that's going to deliver on those things, then it's possible."

NYT photo

We're shaking the rust off a bit after our hiatus, but in the meantime things progress around Grant Street, Harrisburg and DC:

Dan Onorato may not have announced if he'll be on the executive ballot for a third time come spring, but county controller Mark Flaherty is set to run regardless. (Jim O'Toole)

Can't start 2011 without something Marcellus-related. John Hines may be the new DEP secretary. (Detrow/Capitolwire/GrassrootsPa)

Kit Seelye at the NYT writes about LCB privatization (NYT photo above):

Like prisoners in the gulag, consumers here can only fantasize about buying their wine and liquor in a competitive free market. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has run the liquor stores for eight decades, a relic of the post-Prohibition era, when government thought controlling the sale of alcohol would limit consumption.

Here's a bio of Pat Toomey's pick for his point man on Western Pa:

Matt Blackburn – Western Pennsylvania Director. A native of Erie, PA, Mr. Blackburn has many years of experience working in the legislative, policy, and political arena.  Mr. Blackburn started his career as a Legislative Assistant for then-Congressman Toomey in 2003 and went on to join the Congressman’s 2004 Senate campaign as the Director of Grassroots for Western and Central Pennsylvania.  He continued to gain legislative and policy experience as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and as the Government Affairs Director for Express Search, Inc., a patent research company.  Most recently, Mr. Blackburn served as the Policy Director for Senator-Elect Toomey’s 2010 campaign, overseeing all research and policy issues.  Mr. Blackburn received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Gannon University in Erie, PA.
The full list of the new senators regional directors is after the jump:

20101214_supremecourttv_150The Legal Intelligencer, one of the country's oldest legal journals, posts a commentary underscoring the fact that the political redistricting drama ahead for the Commonwealth may not be the sole workproduct of the Republican governor and legislature:

"It's commonly asserted that the Republicans have complete control over the process. After all, the GOP is set to be the majority in the state Senate and state House and Gov.-elect Tom Corbett is a Republican.

But not so fast. The state Supreme Court, nominally controlled by a 4-3 GOP majority, may prove to be a wild card."

(Follow news of the courts and legal community at Ipso Facto)

Get PG politics coverage by e-mail!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner