View Full Version : Arlen Specter Switching Parties

April 28th, 2009, 12:34 PM

Specter switching parties

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor April 28, 2009 12:16 PM

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, facing a tough reelection battle, announced today that he is switching from Republican to Democrat to seek reelection in 2010.

The stunning move could swing the balance of power in the Senate, giving Democrats the control of 59 seats. And if Al Franken, as expected, is seated in the Minnesota race, it would give Democrats a potentially filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats and would help President Obama push through his agenda.

Specter said he has had growing differences with the Republican Party and when he was one of only three Republicans to support the president's $787 billion stimulus plan, the differences became irreconcilable.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement on his campaign website."

"When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing."

April 28, 2009

I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

April 28th, 2009, 01:39 PM
Wow. Didn't see that coming.

April 28th, 2009, 01:45 PM
Specter is trying to head off Pat Toomey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Toomey), a republican who gave him a strong primary challenge in 2004 who would likely beat him this time around.

Just another incumbent clinging desperately to his seat by any means necessary. (Though I applaud his willingness (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?p=281912#post281912) to look critically at the the way the drug war adversely impacts our criminal justice system.)

April 28th, 2009, 10:05 PM
Kind of shocked he didn't do the "independent-republican" thing. Sorta like a right-leaning version of Lieberman. I mean... that was the precedent right?

5 years ago it was all about the Republican majority forever. Now they can't even break a filibuster.

May 6th, 2009, 11:01 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/images/homepage/logos/twp_logo_300.gif (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

Party Switch Costs Specter
His Seniority on Senate Committees

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats.

In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter's tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats.

Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. (He will rank second from last on the fifth, the Special Committee on Aging.) Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal.

Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after next year's midterm elections.

"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman, said last night.

Specter's office declined to comment.

The loss of seniority could prove costly to Specter in his campaign to win reelection in 2010, denying him the ability to distinguish himself from a newcomer in his ability to claim key positions.

Specter said last week that becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee was a personal goal of his, and his Senate service seemed to put him in position to be the third-ranking Democrat there. Now, though, he will not hold even an Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship in 2011 -- a critical foothold Specter has used to send billions of dollars to Pennsylvania.

Specter also appeared to be next in line to chair the Judiciary Committee, behind the current chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). But when Supreme Court nomination hearings are held this summer, he will be the last senator to ask questions of the eventual nominee -- a dramatically lower profile than in 2005 and 2006, when he chaired the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Meanwhile, Specter backtracked yesterday from comments he made to the New York Times Magazine in an interview to be published Sunday. He had joked about how Norm Coleman of Minnesota could possibly win his legal contest and reclaim his Senate seat, ensuring that there would still be at least one Jewish Republican in the chamber.

Specter told Congressional Quarterly yesterday: "In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates. I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

May 6th, 2009, 01:04 PM
Seems Arlen needs to learn to play better with others. After all these years he now finds himself with little to no clout. So much for personal goals.

This serves him right after switching parties but failing to "cooperate" (the word BO used last week) to support the Democrats.

If he wanted to free himself of the Republican cabal he could have simply beocme an Independent.

Note to Arlen: This shouldn't be about YOU. It's about your constituency and what's right for the country. You might want to brush up on your hobbies.

May 6th, 2009, 01:35 PM
Arlen is about his constituency - whatever constituency he'll need to get reelected.

Too Democrat, and he might lose the election; not Democrat enough, and he might lose a primary challenge.

He'll be tap dancing all year.

May 6th, 2009, 04:47 PM
He's going to pull a Lieberman.

May 7th, 2009, 09:07 AM
Only if the Lieb man is nice to him.

May 11th, 2009, 02:23 AM
He going to get challenged in the Democratic Primary by Sestak.

May 11th, 2009, 10:31 AM
Joe Sestak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Sestak). It's inevitable that he'll be referred to by the same moniker as the GOP's newest mascot: Joe Sixpak. That should confuse some folks.

May 12th, 2009, 09:34 AM
Plus, the new Land of the Lost Movie is coming out - and we'll be reviving those pesky Slezaks (and Chaca).

May 25th, 2009, 09:55 PM
GOP regulars have been wanting this guy to get out of the party, for years. It's about time.