GOP Senator Specter Switches Parties

In politics, U.S government on April 28, 2009 by Editor Z

Following nearly three decades as a Republican U.S Senator from the state of Pennsylvania, has announced that he will run for re-election as a Democrat in 2010. Specter faced an arduous primary challenge from a rival whom he just barely eked out a victory from in the 2004 Republican Primary, former U.S Rep Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Specter sites the fight over the stimulus package earlier this year as the breaking point. No news if Democrats will challenge Specter for their party’s nomination.

Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Specter’s switch of party will give the Democrats a 59 seat majority (59 if one includes Independents Joe Libermann (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT) who caucus with the Democrats). Also once Minnesota decides to Seat Al Franken in the disputed 2008 Senate election, Democrats would have a 60 seat majority, that in any straight party line vote would invalidate any Republican filibusters.

Despite Specter’s party switch however he has made clear that his votes on issues will likely not. Specter has indicated that he will not switch his vote in opposition to the Employee Free choice Act, will not vote to move forward and support the Obama candidate for White House Office of Legal Council Dawn Johnsen (no I don’t mean that Don Johnson, Sonny Crockett doesn’t have a law degree and I doubt pastel colors would be a good fit for D.C), states he will oppose using a reconciliation process in the Senate to pass legislation with 51 votes, and doesn’t know if he will immediately start caucusing with Democrats. Specter it appears will fit in with the national Democratic party as he did with the Republicans. Only difference is the Republicans at least on the national level seem to be embracing rather then recoiling from thier most ideological supporters.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele says the switch isn’t due in regards to ideology but as a political concern. Steele could be right about Specter’s motivation. His poll numbers do show that he would have an uphill battle. However Specter’s exodus does seem to reflect a broader trend as Republican party identification amongst voters that is at its lowest level in a quarter century. Steele himself even called for punishment of Specter and two other Republican Senators who voted in support of the economic stimulus package.

In short, as Specter indicated at his press conference announcing his party switch, Specter and others have a disagreement with many conservative party activists. After two bruising election losses Specter and moderate Republicans aren’t wedded to ideology and want to win elections. The national party and its most ardent activists however seems more centered on starting an ideological fight. Conservative Republicans it appears, despite the ideological political shift evidence in the last elections, don’t want to win, but want to remain ideologically pure.



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