Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter has served as his one of his state's two U.S. senators for nearly 30 years, representing the Republican Party for most of that time. But last year, facing a formidable challenge in the Republican primary, the politically moderate Specter announced he was changing parties and becoming a Democrat.
Now, he finds himself with another challenge on his hands: convincing skeptical voters that he is truly aligned with his new party's agenda and can be counted on to support its priorities. His opponent in the Democratic primary, Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, is doing his best to depict Specter as an untrustworthy politician who supported misguided Republican policies. At a time when many voters are disillusioned with incumbent politicians and "business as usual" in Washington, Sestak represents a fresh face for many Pennsylvanians seeking a change.
President Barack Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell are both endorsing Specter in the primary, encouraging fellow Democrats to grant him another term. While no one can predict whether Specter will be on the Democratic ticket in November, most analysts agree that whoever wins will face an uphill battle against a strong Republican contender.
The first 2 minutes and 40 seconds of this video provide general background about Specter and his position in the Democratic primary, while the rest explores the race and Specter's opponent more in-depth.
"Voters are sour. They are cranky. They're frustrated. And that energy level that we saw with President Obama in this state -- he won Pennsylvania by 10 percentage points, turned out a whole bunch of new voters -- we don't see that." - Terry Madonna, director, Center for Politics and Public Affairs, Franklin and Marshall College
"We cannot fix Washington, which everyone has lost faith in, if you are just going to rely on the same career politicians that got us into this mess. We need a new generation to literally help clean up how we approach the future." - Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.)
"I have been in public life for 43 years, and no one has ever called me a liar before." - Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.)
"I think there is a strong anti-incumbent feeling in the country. And I would have a very difficult time if I was running for reelection. You know, there isn't an incumbent governor, senator or even congressman who's in good shape in this country." - Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.)
1. What is an incumbent in an election?
2. Who are your state's senators? Are either of them up for re-election this November?
3. How many senators are there, and how many does each state have?
1. Do you think Sen. Specter did the right thing by switching parties last year? Why or why not?
2. According to the video, why are voters generally "cranky" and "frustrated"? Why do these feelings among voters pose a threat to incumbent politicians?
3. Do some research about the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings and Anita Hill, which are both mentioned in the video. How was Senator Specter involved in these events, and how did they affect voters' opinions of him?