Big Labor is really bummed out today with the news that U.S. Senator Arlen Specter won’t be backing their Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) (you can watch his floor speech here) — at least for this year. No Republican votes (and many shaky Democrats) means union officials won’t be able to invoke the 60 votes needed for cloture to take away workers’ rights to the secret ballot and impose costly binding arbitration.
This has got to spell a little relief for Colorado’s newly selected U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. EFCA has put Bennet in a bind, but if the political signals are clear that the legislation won’t pass he might have the cover he needs. At this point, my guess is Bennet will take the path of least resistance within his own party and vote for the Big Labor boondoggle while trying to reassure moderate business leaders that his vote cannot do any actual damage.
The likely result? Michael Bennet should be able to preclude a costly primary in 2010, but he will speedily enhance his status as a high-profile target for a slate of top-notch Republican challengers to take on. Whether it’s Bob Beauprez or Ryan Frazier or someone else, next year’s U.S. Senate race figures to be THE Colorado political campaign to watch.