Arlin Specter says he’s switching from GOP to Democrats

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania abruptly switched parties Tuesday, a move intended to boost his re-election chances that also pushed Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement was expected at mid-afternoon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate

Posted April 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Hakkatan wrote:

He simply stopped being a “RINO.”  His switch is bad for the GOP because of the numbers, but it makes him a more honest man.

April 28, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
2. alfonso wrote:

No filibusters. Lord have mercy.

April 28, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

Good riddance.  Now the Democrats own everything.

April 28, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
4. Carolina Anglican wrote:

On Mar 17, 2009 “I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there.” Sen Specter (D and Liar).  The low level of ethics and integrity of our representatives just seems to keep sinking.  If Pres. Obama had the integrity he purports he would have rejected Sen Specter due to his promise and election as a Republican; instead, the President is “thrilled.”

April 28, 4:30 pm | [comment link]
5. Branford wrote:

Sen. Specter saw polling that showed his Republican challenger, Toomey, way ahead of him among Repubs for the primary. He doesn’t want to stop being senator, so what better way to ensure continued election by switching parties? Of course, he’s taking a risk that he won’t be the Democratic nominee in 2010, but obviously, that’s better odds than knowing he won’t be the Repub nominee.

My only problem is that he was elected as a Republican and he should either remain with the Republican party until it’s time for re-election, then switch parties and run as a Democrat, or he should resign now and ask Gov. Rendell to appoint him as a Democratic senator. Both of these options would be more honorable to the people of Pennsylvania who elected him as a Republican, but then again, I think his overall concern is staying in the Senate, so he’s picking the easiest way for that to happen. I don’t have much respect for that action.

April 28, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
6. Dilbertnomore wrote:

This RINO’s departure will likely make it less attractive for the Bobsey Twins of Maine to follow suit. Now that the Democrats own completely whatever they will make of their unlimited governing power there is little they need to dangle in the direction of other RINOs. Of course, that won’t stop the Bobsey Twins and Voinovich and McCain and Graham from continuing to play the RINO card when their twisted egos require. Perhaps, since the game is all in the Dems court, this would be a very good time to just flush the rest of the RINOs and start over.

April 28, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
7. FrVan wrote:

As someone pointed out he is way behind in the polls for the Republican nomination, nearly 30 points I think, so he has made a pact with the Democrats. As a lifelong Republican I would find it difficult to vote for him—but, being from Arkansas, I don’t have a dog it that fight, except the yellow one that is leaving the GOP and giving the Dems a lock on filibuster.

April 28, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
8. Already left wrote:

Well, if you live in California, we voted in a Republican governor who swore to keep a hold on taxes and has now done a 180.

April 28, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
9. libraryjim wrote:

AS Tip O’Neil said: All politics are local.  Specter, who has been voting with the Democrats for ages, held his finger to the wind and shifted with the political breeze.  All that has really changed for him is his party affiliation.

April 28, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
10. Dave B wrote:

I am glad to see specter go, his ethics, morals, and voting now match his party affiliation!  God is in charge and dispite fighting the good fight, this, I feel , will bring God’s judgement on the US for our unrepentant sinning of abortion, honoring of homosexual behavior and rejection of God and his word…the democrates are going to spend us into oblivion.

April 28, 6:41 pm | [comment link]
11. NewTrollObserver wrote:

A Specter is haunting the Senate—Arlen Specter (R-PA).

April 28, 7:19 pm | [comment link]
12. bushwacker wrote:

What’s the difference from one prostitute to the next?
Ans: Only the price

April 28, 7:42 pm | [comment link]
13. Jeffersonian wrote:

The truly jaw-dropping comment from Specter was that the Republican Party has become too right-wing for his delicate sensibilities.  Would that it were true.  That would be a huge surprise to us right-wing madmen, who think the pachyderms have all but lost any sense of principled libertarian conservatism. 

Specter knew Toomey’d clean his clock, so he’s taking the only path to possible incumbency he has.

And #12, please don’t slander prostitutes that way.

April 28, 7:50 pm | [comment link]
14. Alta Californian wrote:

Everyone is crowing about how this gives the Dems a filibuster-proof majority.  I’m not so sure.  I doubt he’ll be a reliable Democratic vote any more than he has been a reliable Republican vote.  Oh, the pressure will be on, especially if he’s running in the Dem primary.  But it’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll vote for cloture on everything the President’s party wants.  The question is whether the Republicans will feel as free to threaten the filibuster now that they can’t count on Specter’s support.  How interesting to remember that it was just a few years ago that the right was calling for the abolition of the filibuster as a way to end Democratic obstructionism.  I hope we can all see now how short-sighted that was.

April 28, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
15. First Family Virginian wrote:

This is interesting news go say the least.  Of course, Senator Specter says he won’t be an easy 60th vote when it comes to knocking down an attempted filibuster.  In any event, being that 60th vote assumes the seating of Senator-Elect Franken, and that is, at best, months in the future.

10—I don’t see it your way; I can’t even fathom God as being that punitive.  Now were I to, I might suggest that God has already passed judgment on the Republican Party.  I don’t know about you ... but I would think it due to that party’s unrepentant sinning via its failure to help the poor ... its refusal to stand up for the disenfranchised ... and/or its unwelcoming stance against the visiting alien.

Of course, the tendency to place the blame for failures – real, perceived or expected—entirely on others makes it so easy to avoid responsibility at home.

April 28, 8:03 pm | [comment link]
16. Dave B wrote:

15 First family, Bush has done more to fight aids in Africa than any other president, conservatives are far more generous in there personal giving than liberals (it is easier to give other peoples money) , and liberals attend church far less and honor God far less.  Please don’t be so judgemental.  The spending Obama is supporting is unsustainable per the OMB.  What is your source?

April 28, 8:14 pm | [comment link]
17. austin wrote:

Specter said some pretty nasty things about turncoats when Jim Jeffers jumped ship and became an independent—suggested outlawing changing party while in holding office.  I suppose he’s had a change of heart.

April 28, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
18. Fr. Dale wrote:

Didn’t Arlin Specter defend Ira Einhorn the murderer who hid out in France for years? No one wants to discuss that piece of delayed justice thanks to Specter.

April 28, 9:43 pm | [comment link]
19. Jeffersonian wrote:

His deeply-held beliefs had the half-life of a snowflake in Hell, Austin, once he saw himself losing to Toomey by 21 points.  Specter’s more deeply-held belief is that he is indispensible to the operation of that Augean stable known as the Senate.

April 28, 9:43 pm | [comment link]
20. FrJim wrote:

Sen. Specter’s decision is cause for rejoicing…and the way he did this reveals once and for all the man’s character.  I hope the people of Pennsylvania draw the right conclusions and pull their voting levers accordingly.

April 28, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
21. Philip Snyder wrote:

I remember when Phil Gramm changed from Democrat to Republican in the 1980s.  He resigned his seat and ran in a special election (this time as a Republican.  I wish Specter had the same integrity.

Phil Snyder

April 28, 10:22 pm | [comment link]
22. Crypto Papist wrote:

A dishonourable man for a dishonourable party.

April 28, 10:38 pm | [comment link]
23. Chris wrote:

#18, yes he did defend Einhorn and to my knowledge refused to ever answer questions about it.  He’s a coward, plain and simple, and today’s shenanigans only reinforce that.

April 28, 10:41 pm | [comment link]
24. justin wrote:

I’m inclined to think that the Democrats’ ability to prevent a filibuster hasn’t changed much, except that Specter used to lean to the right before each election.
Now the interesting question is just whether Pennsylvania is still able to elect a reasonably conservative, or has it turned all the way blue.

April 28, 10:44 pm | [comment link]
25. Jeffersonian wrote:

What do you think the “stimulus” is for, Justin?  A lot of that money is being spent in 2010, just in time for the mid-term elections.  And the campaign’s going to be one, big hog call to see who can get more slopped into his state’s trough.

Dependency breeds subservience, my namesake once said.  He meant it as a warning.  The Democratic Party uses it as a strategy.

April 28, 10:54 pm | [comment link]
26. justin wrote:

In years past, I think he might have voted against something like the stimulus bill if it was close to an election, in order to appease the fiscal conservatives in PA who “held their nose and voted for him” in each Republican primary where he was challenged by an actual Republican. From my experience he is very unpopular among Republicans (at least in the middle of the state) but they’ve kept voting for him because of the R next to his name. Meanwhile, the state gets bluer and bluer, and we’ll just have to see whether or not a conservative can win the state anymore.

April 28, 11:05 pm | [comment link]
27. justin wrote:

Correction to above: “actual Republican” should be “actual conservative”. I’m not sure what it means to be an “actual Republican” these days.

April 28, 11:08 pm | [comment link]
28. Sarah1 wrote:

I pretty much agree with much of what has been written.  It’s always good when one’s beliefs are aligned, and it seems to me that Specter’s liberal conception of the role of government, and economic policy, and plenty of other beliefs of his are best held within the right party for him.

One down—two more to go, at least!  ; > )

Of course, in the short term it’s “inconvenient” for the Republicans.  But I’ve always believed it’s better to build from a base of integrity—even if it’s just 30 conservatives who actually accept the Republican platform—then to have to deal with liberals who are pretending to do so.

April 29, 1:25 am | [comment link]
29. Katherine wrote:

This just goes to show where party loyalty will get you.  Was it 2004 when the R bureaucracy, including Santorum, supported Specter over Toomey?  Bad, bad choice.

Specter’s being behind in the polls is enough reason for this, so I suppose we don’t need to look for what happened in North Carolina in 2000, when a Republican became a Democrat and overturned the elected balance in the State House of Reps.  Turned out he was bribed, and he and the Dem leader went to jail later.

April 29, 1:53 am | [comment link]
30. MySoulInSilenceWaits wrote:

Specter was a Democrat before he became a Republican.  He “made the switch to Republican before running for - and winning in an upset - the position of Philadelphia District Attorney in 1965.”

Politics is not about high ideals—it’s about getting elected.  Your average politician knows little if anything about governing—an does not want to learn.  But do they know how to spin and make speeches to a hapless public?  I should say they do.

April 29, 2:38 am | [comment link]
31. NewTrollObserver wrote:

#30, true, Specter is simply “returning home”.

April 29, 12:21 pm | [comment link]
32. Old Pilgrim wrote:

For some interesting, and non-inflammatory, background on the larger question please see:

Looks like Arlen may have been prescient on this one…

April 29, 1:41 pm | [comment link]
33. Andrew717 wrote:

Not all that prescient.  Polls showed him losing, he was in a position to strike a deal with the dems whereby they don’t contest the primary, so he gets all the Left vote in the general, combined with his name-recognition, and so accomplishes his goal of remaining in office for life.  All pretty logical and straight forward from his point of view.  I’d likely have retired (he is, IIRC, 78), but I’m not a professional Senator.

April 29, 2:17 pm | [comment link]
34. libraryjim wrote:

I heard on the radio that Republican voters in PA were planning ‘good-bye’ parties for this weekend to celebrate the defection of Specter, who, even though has been re-elected time after time, really doesn’t seem to be that popular with voters this time around.

April 29, 7:35 pm | [comment link]
35. First Family Virginian wrote:

One poster writes: One down—two more to go, at least!  ; > )  

Olympia Snowe & Susan Collins are two on the list of “Liberal” Republicans.  If they cross the aisle ... well, there would hardly be need of an aisle.  The Democrats would have 62 ... until Al Franken is seated ... then it’d be 63.

Of course until the Republican Party understands how the politics of government work—it’s called compromise—the GOP hasn’t much of a chance.  The current GOP leadership’s All or Nothing approach is resulting in a whole lot of Nothin’ and very little All. 

16—It’s not about whether conservatives or liberals have done the most good.  My point is ... the way you view God—as a vengeful God who will get the bad guys for doing wrong—one can easily view the Republican Party’s loss of favor—a huge loss at that—as God’s retribution for their sins.  Why, one could even come to understand this whole economic mess as God’s punishment for all the Republican bad deeds during the eight years of the Bush Administration.

April 30, 3:00 am | [comment link]
36. Katherine wrote:

#35 First Family Virginian, I have to assume you’re joking.  The Democratic majorities don’t need Republican votes at this point and they have shown no interest in working with Republicans or soliciting their opinions in crafting legislation.  President and Speaker have made it clear that since they won the elections they rule, and compromise and is not something they’re interested in.  They’ve got the votes, and they own the problems they are creating—or the good results, if it turns out that way, which I doubt.

April 30, 3:14 am | [comment link]
37. libraryjim wrote:

Very true, Speaker Pelosi has made it clear with new House Rules that prohibit Republicans from amending bills or offering alternative legislation.

The All or Nothing mentality is on the part of the Democrats, not the Republicans.  Under George W., the Republicans routinely offered Democrats positions on committees, alliances, etc.  W even asked Kennedy to write his Education Bill (which became the basis of “No Child Left Behind”, since vilified by the Democrats!).

There is none of that in the current administration or Congressional action.

April 30, 4:01 pm | [comment link]
38. First Family Virginian wrote:

36 & 37—Compromise is desirable on many fronts ... but the compromise to which I refer is that needed within the Republican Party. 

The Party’s move further and further right—in combination with alienating its own “moderates” – has caused the GOP to loose elections in all but the most conservative parts of the nation.  Moreover, the Party’s purging of all but the most hard-line conservatives is likely to cause the GOP to remain a minority party ... until it amends the errors of its ways.

A moderate Republican such as Specter can win in Pennsylvania ... just as Snowe can win in Maine … while those further to the Right don’t stand much of a chance.  And ... running moderates elsewhere could well produce similar results. 

Of course, once the moderates are gone ... so is any chance of forming an alliance with them.  For this reason the GOP may remain on the outs for years to come.

May 1, 1:40 pm | [comment link]
39. Katherine wrote:

#38 First Family Virginian, if the Republican Party had indeed moved “hard right,” we would never have had a nominee like John McCain, or even George W. Bush, who was never a program conservative.  The Republicans lost their majorities in Congress because they didn’t behave like fiscal conservatives.  In retrospect, their deficits are dwarfed by the Democratic deficits, but people (like me) were not happy at the time.

May 1, 2:44 pm | [comment link]
40. First Family Virginian wrote:

As for Bush & McCain ... both played to the Right ... much further to the Right than I would have preferred.  Perhaps they were disingenuous in doing so ... doing it only to get elected (in false hopes of in Sen. McCain’s case) and in that sense ... are just two more Great American Hypocrites. 

In terms of those serving in the Senate and the House ... the majority of Republicans are rather “Far Right”.  If a moderate such as Specter were to be treated by the Republican Party in a fashion even remotely similar to his reception on this website with its heavy preponderance of Republicans—and indeed that’s how he is treated by them—does anyone have to wonder why he left the GOP?  Of course not … and yet they will.

I suppose the definition of “Far Right” varies from person to person.  What I see as Far Right another might choose to see as “Plain Old Everyday Normal.”  It’s all relative.

May 1, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
41. Fr. Dale wrote:

#40. First Family Virginian,
When you have served your country as long and as well as Senator McCain feel free to call him any name you like otherwise I just see it as a cheap shot from a typical liberal.

May 2, 1:23 am | [comment link]
42. Katherine wrote:

I also think “hypocrite” is wrong to describe Bush and McCain.  What you mean, apparently, #40, is that they did things you disagreed with.  You don’t say what “far right” means to you.  If you mean opposing abortion on demand, both Bush and McCain have acted on principle there, not expedience.  If you mean fiscal conservatism, I wish Bush had displayed more of it, and McCain too, although we might at least have counted on him to veto this outrageous “stimulus” bill and to send up a more sensible budget.  If you mean Specter is not a conservative in any sense, that’s correct.

May 2, 2:28 am | [comment link]
43. Katherine wrote:

I should add that the definition of “Moderate” also varies from person to person.  Specter, in terms of his voting patterns, isn’t even, in my opinion, a conservative Democrat.  He’ll be more of a moderate even on that side.

May 2, 2:31 am | [comment link]
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