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

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