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Politics & Power

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Long Time Republican Senator Arlen Specter Announces Switch to Democratic Party

In a move that was shocking to many and heartbreaking to the GOP, the long-time Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Announced Tuesday his intentions to seek re-election as a Democrat. During a press conference held Tuesday Senator Specter said that he had looked at recent polling in Pennsylvania and taken stock of the differences he has had with the current leadership in the GOP and came to the realization that his chances to win a primary battle in the Republican primary were “bleak”. In the 2008 election cycle many moderate Pennsylvanian Republicans also switched parties to support Barack Obama. With virtually nothing but far-right leaning registered Republicans left in Pennsylvania the moderate Specter would likely have lost the primary battle in the upcoming 2010 election.

While some in the Democratic ranks including President Obama cheered the decision Specter made sure to point out that his change of Party would not change his stands or how he would vote on key issues. He has maintained a record of voting his conscience and will not change that to accommodate the wishes of his new Party any more than he would in the past with Republicans. In part it is his willingness to break with his Party on key issues that put his re-election in jeopardy with the Republican Party. His support of the recent stimulus package presented to Congress by President Obama brought much criticism from the leadership of his own Party.

With the support of the majority of Democrats in Pennsylvania indicated in recent polls the move makes political sense for Specter who is a seasoned veteran politician. As some have noted Specter began as a Democrat so this is a homecoming of sorts. In recent years his voting record has been to the left of the Republican Party overall but not in lock step with Democrats either. Specter is a moderate known for being willing to work with people on both sides of the aisle but not unlike his colleague Joe Lieberman he has found most of the resistance he faces coming from within his own Party.

The reaction from Republican leaders to Specter’s announcement of his decision to become a Democrat was less than amicable. Michael Steele, the Chairman of the RNC, likened the decision to the act of “flipping the bird” to the Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh suggested that Specter’s colleague John McCain should join him in his departure from the GOP. It would seem that among conservative Republicans “centrist” is a dirty word these days.

While the right wing of the Republican Party seems determined to take down Specter for his departure it is becoming more apparent that support for the far right is lessening. As the GOP has moved further to the right ideologically fewer and fewer Americans are identifying themselves as Republicans while the Democratic Party and other “third” parties are finding membership on the rise.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article








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