Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post is reporting that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) will be switching to the Democratic Party.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

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 Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.)

"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "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."

He just now realized this?  I was wondering why he thought he was a Republican.  This is a survival move by Specter.  I think he was going to have a hard time surviving a primary challenge based on his vote on the stimulus bill.

Update: The Hill reminds us that in a March 17 interview with them, Specter disavowed a switch.  So much for keeping one’s word.  Let’s just say this is his way of acknowledging he wouldn’t win a primary challenge.  RINO buh bye!  Those who have felt like they had a Democrat representing them can now say they have the real thing.

2nd Update (4/29/09): Time’s Michael Grunwald on why Senator Specter really switched parties.  HT: Republican National Conservative Caucus

12 comments
  1. Is Specter a RINO or what we used to call a moderate Republican? I remember Specter doing a lot of water carrying for Republicans during the Reagan era and continues to vote most consistently with more GOP proposals. He's also very popular in Pennsylvania (I voted for him years ago while I lived in the state) and has consistently beaten Democrat candidates. In contrast, his current GOP opponent doesn't have much of a chance in the general election. I think the circling of the wagons and eliminating moderate voices in the part is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. A pyrrhic victory at best that further marginalizes the party in the view of swing voters.

    Check out Ross Douthat's premier column in the NYT op-ed pages. I think Ross is spot-on:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/opinion/28dou

  2. Right. He's a liberal anyway. Let's pray for a miracle to keep Franken out of the Senate. I know first to pray for God's will and if he wills Frankenstein to be in the Senate, there's a good reason we'll see up the road. I just want to make sure we've done all we could to keep him out. Specter is a failure and I suspect he will remain so regardless of what party affiliation he has.

  3. “He added: “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.””

    If I remember correctly, Reagan's “Big Tent” involved communicating a convincing conservative point of view, to those who entered, and then later adapted. It was the spreading of the conservative message. Now “Big Tent” means that we have to bend over to moderate and liberal-lite viewpoints in order to “attract” more bodies into the “Tent”. Principles have to be compromised as not to offend those that haven't yet made up their minds whether or not they have any principles. And woe to those who have religious convictions in this new era of “Big Tent”!

    Specter may believe, in his own RINO way, that the Republican party moved far to the right, but I suppose that perspective needs to be weighed with his incremental moving to the left. And those 200,000 new democrats: didn't they switch during the Operation Chaos mission? ( I know Medved denies this). Better late than never, I'm glad Specter had this long-anticipated epipheny. Long-anticipated for those of us who wished this RINO to high-tail it out of town eons ago. Good bye, Arlen… we hardly knew ye.

  4. I guess he forgot about Reagan's conservatism… to be under the big tent you have to be conservative somehow – either with defense, fiscally or socially. Reagan was all three.

  5. I’d say that's what broke the Club for Growth's back. The record clearly shows that Specter has strongly supported Republican agendas. But I understand that many in the diminishing base want 100% allegiance. Why not? Let just over half of the remaining 27% of the voters in Pennsylvania who remain Republicans boot him out. Let’s help purge the Northeast of the few remaining Republican senators and representatives. Wipe out the all moderates.

    Meanwhile, Specter holds about a 60% approval rating in Pennsylvania.

  6. I think that's unlikely. Toomey can't carry Democrats and most Independents. Against Specter he'd have trouble holding a lot of moderate Republicans. I doubt Toomey would win against even a no-name Democrat in Pennsylvania. The Club for Growth affiliation is kinda poisonous right now.

  7. Why is the Club for Growth link a negative right now in Pennsylvania. I can't say they are my favorite group either based on their hatchet job on Mike Huckabee. With the grumbling about the spending and general unpopularity with the bailouts and stimulus plan I don't see why that is the case. But, admittedly, I'm not in touch with Pennsylvania politics.

  8. The Club for Growth tends to push for unbridled and unregulated business. It's like fiscal conservatism without a soul (I'm imagining “Ferengi with smaller ears”)

    Being associated with the excess of the recent bubble is not a comfortable place to be.

    The club liked the tax cuts in the stimulus plan but wanted much more aimed at businesses and the elimination of capital gains taxes. That has the effect of shifting the overall tax burden to lower and middle income earners. In a time where the gap between highest and lowest paid workers is quite high, and executive compensation appears detached from actual performance, the club's position is harder to defend. Plus, as you know, they're happy to do hatchet jobs (Huckabee simply wasn't pro-business enough — perhaps because he displayed a social conscience).

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