Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

PA-Sen: Arlen Specter to Become a Democrat?

(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats)

I guess so.

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 senator 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.”

Overall, I’m happy. I mean, why shouldn’t I be when we will be assured of 60 Senate votes once Al Franken is seated in Minnesota? Still, I have a few reservations.

After all, Specter was one of the key “Senate Moderates” who caved into Bush-Cheney every time he could. He caved on Iraq. He caved on torture. He caved on civil liberties. He’s even indicated he might cave on Employee Free Choice. So what should we do?

While I don’t always agree with him on everything, I think David Sirota is onto something here. We shouldn’t let him get away with opposing the Employee Free Choice Act, especially since he’s now a Democrat. We should make sure he supports an all-inclusive ENDA that protects all LGBT workers from wrongful unemployment. We should make sure he supports President Obama’s budget and ensure he doesn’t try to water it down. Basically, we should exert pressure on Arlen Specter to be more of a Democrat now that he’s hoping to win reelection as a Democrat.

Now don’t get me wrong. I get that “Snarlin’ Arlen” is only doing this so he can reelected next year. Still, he should know that he doesn’t get our help as Democrats for nothing. If he wants all the benefits in Pennsylvania of being a Democrat, then Specter needs to at least start acting like a mainstream center-left Democrat.

So am I glad we’re closer to having 60 Democrats in the Senate? Sure. I just want to make sure that this is what we’re actually getting today.


  1. Not that Senator Specter has made a choice, and one that I can at least understand.

    From his website:

    April 28, 2009

    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.

    I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

    I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

    While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

    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.

    Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

    What saddens me, is that the party has made shifts that have made this necessary. I have been a long time Republican, and watched with a great deal of alarm as factions in my party have made that a sometimes tenuous thing with the official stances that the party has chosen. Often stances that contravene the foundations of the party even.

    I wish him luck. And it makes me wonder if other Senators won’t think about making the jump…

  2. have been because of his fear of facing challenges in the Republican primaries. Now he has to face more liberal challengers rather than more conservative ones. This should actually tilt him more to the Left on a lot of issues. He now has a different base to placate. This is all good as far as progressive issues go. Let’s celebrate. It is, however, sad that the Republican party has reached the point where a moderate conservative no longer has a place in the party, as Hubie has pointed out.

    I think this just about guarantees Specter’s vote for card check.

    This also should mean an easy road to re-election for him. He should be able to cruise to the Dem nomination and will probably face a very conservative Rep opponent in the general. This could lead to his biggest victory margin yet.

  3. mme truffle

    I agree atdLeft, we should continue to do whatever it takes on EFCA, but I’m certainly feeling disheartened.

    From his statement it seems clear that he thinks he has something to prove (to himself, to the electorate, to the Democrats and Republicans…who knows?).  For him to have brought up EFCA during his announcement shows that he’s intending to use this particular issue to prove that he’s as as much an Independent minded Democrat as he was an Independent minded Republican.  For some reason he has singled this out as his one principled stance in the midst of criticism that he has no principles, only self-interest.  It would be very difficult for him to back out now, and as we all know Specter only does difficult things when it’s politically necessary.

    I think it is a bad bill. I’m opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture.

    This statement – made during the news conference – speaks more loudly than his original qualified “No” on EFCA.  He originally said that he was opposed to the timing of the bill and not the principle of it. I knew that answer was specially designed to assuage the shouts of hypocrite, this being the same “bad bill” that he co-sponsored in 2007. At least now we know where he really stands.

    But the most troubling part about that statement is that he wouldn’t vote to invoke cloture.  Which means that our newest Democratic Senator won’t just be voting with the Republicans, he will be fillibustering with them.

    So it was really nice of “Fast Eddy” Rendell (as he’s affectionately known in PA) to clear the Democratic playing field for his old buddy even if it means leaving Pennsylvania voters without an actual Democrat running for the senate.  Nice way to stick it to labor.

  4. louisprandtl

    a Democrat now but I have very little respect for the man who rammed through the Senate, Justice Thomas’s nomination and do not still regret his dishonest and lowly attacks on Anita Hill’s credibility. Over the years some of his action still give me pause including his current flip to oppose EFCA (from the earlier position when he needed the Union support the win the last election).

Comments are closed.