Longtime Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has announced that he’s crossing the aisle
s and will now represent his state as a Democrat. According to sources, this was a switch that then-minority leader Harry Reid has been working for the past five years. Specter made a statement explaining his philosophical and political decision.
"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."
Specter has long been known to go against his party on key issues, most recently his support of President Obama’s Stimulus Plan. With Specter’s switch and Al Franken’s controversial win in Minnesota, the Democrat Party will have the necessary majority in the Senate to counter any filibusters for party-line votes. However, Specter makes no guarantees.
My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.
Other political factors may have also influenced Specter’s decision. A 2010 Primary election projection showed him trailing fellow Republican Pat Toomey. There was no real Democratic challenger. But now Specter, a congressional member for the past three decades, can pose a threat. Over 130,000 Republican voters in Pennsylvania switched parties for the 2008 Presidential election and have not switched back.