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Specter To Switch Parties

Updated
By Chris Cillizza
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, according to sources informed of the decision.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania, as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former represenative Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella, although several other candidates are looking at the race.

Continue reading at The Fix»

Specter's full statement follows:

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 specially 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.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 28, 2009; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Hill Transition  
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Comments

If you have every donated to Specter, I suggest you go in person (TODAY, before he closes down any of these offices) and request a refund:

Washington DC
711 Hart Building
Washington , DC 20510
Main: 202-224-4254
Fax: 202-228-1229

Lehigh Valley
504 W. Hamilton
Suite 3814, Federal Building
Allentown, PA 18101
Main: 610-434-1444
Fax: 610-434-1844

Erie
17 South Park Row
Federal Building, Suite B-120
Erie, PA 16501
Main: 814-453-3010
Fax: 814-455-9925

Harrisburg
228 Walnut Street
Room 1104, Federal Building
Harrisburg , PA 17101
Main: 717-782-3951
Fax: 717-782-4920

Philadelphia
600 Arch Street
Suite 9400
Philadelphia , PA 19106
Main: 215-597-7200
Fax: 215-597-0406

Pittsburgh
425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1450
Regional Enterprise Tower (old Alcoa Building)
Pittsburgh , PA 15219
Main: 412-644-3400
Fax: 412-644-4871

Scranton
310 Spruce Street
Suite 201
Scranton , PA 18503
Main: 570-346-2006
Fax: 570-346-8499

Wilkes-Barre
7 North Wilkes Barre Boulevard
Stegmaier Building, Room 377M
Wilkes-Barre , PA 18702

Posted by: JakeD | April 28, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

When I worked on the Hill in 00/01 for a GOP Senator, people really respected this guy. I left the GOP in '02 and considered going back and working for them, but now the GOP's true colors come out when a good man like Sen. Specter says things that aren't popular with his party. Well, I'm glad he's switching because he'll have a chance to stay around and further continue his legacy. On a personal note, I'll never go back to the GOP. They ruined a fellow Republican and they tarnished the name of a veteran like Sen. Max Cleland, so I hope they continue to lose power. Maybe the next election they'll come to their senses and get rid of the Right Wing crap that plagues the party.

Posted by: MasonMatt | April 28, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Welcome aboard Senator Spector.

Posted by: mydustymusic | April 28, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

It does not surprise Specter changed parties because he is an old school liberal who has outstayed his welcome in Congress.

It is time for him to go home to retirement.

I do not support him because I never cared for his political point of view, and I hope Rick Santorum or another conservative runs against him in 2010 because Specter has outlived his congressional usefulness.

He is the poster child for term limits for congressional representatives along with many others who need to leave or be kicked out.

Unfortunately, there are no more roadblocks to prevent Obama from getting his socialist agenda through Congress.

Posted by: mjohnsona1 | April 28, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I'm glad that Specter is FINALLY showing his true colors! Now I don't have to argue with those who blindly kept saying: "But he's at least a REPUBLICAN".

Posted by: JakeD | April 28, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance.

Posted by: Rob_H | April 28, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

He will be a very good boot licker indeed ... Excellent!

Posted by: jeffreysmathers | April 28, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Specter got the swine flu. Go eat your pork, Senator.

Posted by: ttj1 | April 28, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

OMG!

Posted by: JakeD | April 28, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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