Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, facing a tough Republican primary is switching to the Democratic Party.
When Al Franken is seated, he and Specter will give the Dems a 60-vote, filibuster proof majority.
Specter released the following statement:
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.
This is a deathblow to the Republicans. With Specter crossing over to the other side the threat of the filibuster is gone once Minnesota Senator-elect Al Franken is seated. So much for any hope that Norm Coleman gives up his legal appeals.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania, there has GOT to be a pissed-off Democrat that was anticipating running against Pat Toomey in the general election in 2010.
This is Specter both recognizing that whle he’s a Republican in name, his party has moved further to the right and largely abandoned the center. He would have lost to Toomey in the primary and paved the way for a Democrat probably selected by Governor Rendell to take the seat away from the Republicans.
This Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer going to Specter and telling him what he already knew: if you want to stay a Senator switch parties and we’ll smooth the path for you with any Democrat that wants to challenge you. I bet someone still will running to Specter’s left, but if the party establishment lines up behind him, that should be enough.
What was hilarious was the spitting, sputtering anger and ranting that came from the likes of Michael Steele, Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh.
McConnell: “I think the threat to the country presented by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or a balance.”
Steele: “Let’s be honest — Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.”
“If Sen. Specter survives in the fall — get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we’re coming after you and taking you out.”
Limbaugh: “A lot of people said, well Specter, take McCain with you, and his daughter. Take McCain and his daughter with you.”
Will the last moderate leaving the Republican Party please turn out the lights?