Arlen Specter to become a Democrat — with Al Franken, that gives Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof 60

The Fix at the Washington Post has this:

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 Sen. 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.”

The reaction from national GOP chairman Michael Steele — who has been under pressure from his party’s more conservative wing — was immediate. He raised the possibility of Democratic opposition for Specter, and the certainty of a Republican challenge:

“Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.

“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 Senator Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.”

At ABC News, George Stephanopoulos is reporting that in a conversation this morning with President Barack Obama, Specter said, “I’m a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda.” Obama promised his “full support.”

The New York Times has just posted Specter’s complete statement. Here’s a taste:

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.

Moves like this rarely occur at the spur of the moment. Signs of premeditation include this article by Specter that just appeared at the New York Times Review of Books, on the Bush expansion of executive powers:

In the seven and a half years since September 11, the United States has witnessed one of the greatest expansions of executive authority in its history, at the expense of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers.

President Obama, as only the third sitting senator to be elected president in American history, and the first since John F. Kennedy, may be more likely to respect the separation of powers than President Bush was. But rather than put my faith in any president to restrain the executive branch, I intend to take several concrete steps, which I hope the new president will support.

First, I intend to introduce legislation that will mandate Supreme Court review of lower court decisions in suits brought by the ACLU and others that challenge the constitutionality of the warrantless wiretapping program authorized by President Bush after September 11.

While the Supreme Court generally exercises discretion on whether it will review a case, there are precedents for Congress to direct Supreme Court review on constitutional issues—including the statutes forbidding flag burning and requiring Congress to abide by federal employment laws—and I will follow those.

Second, I will reintroduce legislation to keep the courts open to suits filed against several major telephone companies that allegedly facilitated the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Although Congress granted immunity to the telephone companies in July 2008, this issue may yet be successfully revisited since the courts have not yet ruled on the legality of the immunity provision.

My legislation would substitute the government as defendant in place of the telephone companies. This would allow the cases to go forward, with the government footing the bill for any damages awarded.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

17 comments Add your comment

Will Jones - Atlanta

April 28th, 2009
12:12 pm

A rocky path to redemption for the one who thought up the Magic Bullet Theory to shield Nixon and Bush1’s assassination of John Kennedy…which sent 58,000 of us to die for the pope in Vietnam.

Better late than never but he has a lot of ’splainin’ to do…and if he doesn’t get a lot of it done now, G-d may not be disposed to listen to him at The Judgment.


April 28th, 2009
12:26 pm

Well, Rush and the other conservative “purists” got what they wanted-a moderate out of “their” party.


April 28th, 2009
12:32 pm

Arlen Spectacle has NEVER been a Republican. Thank God and Greyhound he’s gone!

Will Jones - Atlanta

April 28th, 2009
12:37 pm

He was sure in with the Gay Old Perverts when he was paid off with a seat in the U.S. Senate for shielding Prescott Bush’s boy Nixon and GHW Bush when the gunned down John Kennedy to send us to die in Vietnam.

One bullet breaking seven bones going through two humans and came out on a hospital gurney with nary a scratch…Dat’s some magic bullet! And Arlen came up with all by his lonesome.

The only way he’ll come close to avoiding eternal damnation is to give the insider’s “skinny” on the names, times and places of the traitors who paid him off.

Death for Treason

G-d is not mocked…nor should be the true American People.

Pierce Randall

April 28th, 2009
12:45 pm

Take the psychotic fringe conspiracy arguments somewhere else, Will Jones. You know, I hear they put funny stuff in the water, too.

Good for Democrats, though. These are the risks that party took when they wasted so much political capital with an “all tax cuts” counter-proposal to Obama’s stimulus. I wonder what Washington negotiation has happened or is happening that tipped Specter over the edge, or influenced his timing? Did Republicans just block something, or are they going to try?


April 28th, 2009
1:07 pm

Now, watch the right-wing media try to spin this as a good thing for Republicans. “The Democrats are BOUND to screw up now that they’re unstoppable! Then America will turn on them and vote us back into office again!”

Great strategy: Hope and pray the other guy screws up, instead of offering anything yourself.

And, of course, the fanatics of the far right will cheer as the ideological “purge” of sane moderates continues… “Let’s have a Republican Party that REALLY stands for conservative principles!” Yep, that’ll make a fine slate of candidates–all twelve of them.

Out of 435 seats, if anyone’s counting….

Will Jones - Atlanta

April 28th, 2009
1:26 pm

“Brilliant” debate technique “Pierce Randall:” ad hominem almost always slips past any discerning individual in the audience who wants to see argument used as a vehicle for arriving at the actual truth of a matter.

Want to try out some more “psychotic fringe conspiracy” notions by downloading for free a book by a scholar of unimpeached integrity, probity, that Bush and Cheney committed 9/11?

Or, perhaps learning something new today is a bit much to ask of you?

“Pierce Randall” says: “I’m not going to read no steenking book! Everything I know, I know I know and that’s good enough for my grand life. So I’ll just go merrily on my way running my mouth and talking trash, ’cause I just think I’m wonderful…my Mommy told me so.”

Sissy Saxby

April 28th, 2009
1:51 pm

Rush’s GOP Pogrom continues.


April 28th, 2009
2:04 pm

I bet all the folks who bit their tongues and voted for Saxby to “keep the Democrats from getting 60″ are having serious buyer’s remorse right now.

After all, nobody actually WANTED Saxby; they just wanted to stop Obama. And they failed to do even that much.


April 28th, 2009
2:33 pm

It’s funny to read the GOP chairman’s comments about Spectre’s “left-wing voting record”….this is the same Spectre of whom, had he stayed in the party, chairman Steele would be praising as “an independent conservative, kind of a maverick”….and Palin would be saying, “yep, that Arlen, he always does the mavericky thing, God bless him!”

Way to go Whigs!

April 28th, 2009
2:33 pm

The GOP has become a nasty place for moderates. Conservatives in this country listen and watch propaganda, and expect fringe right voting records and rhetoric from Republicans in swing states. The intolerence and lack of diversity in the Republican party is staggering. Democrats rarely voted straightline during the Bush years, but Republicans in the age of Obama must look the same, act the same and walk the same in order to remain members in good standing. The Republican Party is becoming more rural and fundamentalist with each passing year. Price, Westmoreland and Linder vote just like rural Republicans from Arkansas and Alabama. A good mission statement for Tom Price’s district would be “Suburban Wealth with a White Trash Mindset.” Democrats tolerate moderates much more so than Republicans. They welcomed Lieberman to caucus with them, and there is no talk of kicking our Pryor, Nelson or the North Dakota moderates. Our Party is a diverse party where people representing rural states in the upper midwest can work alongside urban liberals. Kieth Olbermann and Huffington don’t control our party. In the Republican Party if your not a puppet for Hannity, Limbaugh and Fox News you’re just not welcome. I challenge suburban moderate Republicans in Atlanta to look at what your party has become. Welcome to the fold Senator Spector. I am sure a lot of reasonable and intelligent moderates will be right behind you. The GOP is nothing more than good old boy southern regional party that wants to spread Mississippi values across the nation and world.

Welfare for the Rich

April 28th, 2009
3:30 pm

Saxby Chambliss and his 60 vote theory bringing Methalin and her unwed, uneducated, unemployed baby mama to help him win as a rethugalin.

New Motto:
Once you go Democrat you can’t go Back — For all those Republicans you just won’t/can’t WIN….

ex: Al Franken Minn, Scott Murphy NY20, and counting….Pres. Obama 2012 and beyond


April 28th, 2009
3:59 pm

I’m just glad the Swine Flew. Now let’s chase off the other two members of the Axis of Rhinoism: Susan Collins and Olympia Snow

Will Jones - Atlanta

April 28th, 2009
4:30 pm

That’s right…run ‘em off…run ‘em off.

Then let’s see the remaining Gay Old Perverts scum in the Senate, who gave us Bush cheated in by the papists on the SOTUS, sit on the Capitol’s steps, elbow to elbow, douse themselves with gasoline and light a match.

The Beast ain’t gonna jump into the Pit of its own accord…The good and great American People got to do some pushing.


April 29th, 2009
7:26 am

The big tent only works when everyone in the tent agrees on certain aspects of living in the big tent ……. don’t play with matches, don’t bring in rodents, don’t knock over the water barrel, etc.

Specter and his moderates undercut core conservative values at every chance. Its not that Republicans don’t want him, he does want to do what is neccessary to live in the big tent.

Hopefully, he’ll take Snowe and Collins with him. Next time Conservatives return to leadership, they won’t be held back by Moderates like specter.

My prediction ….. Specter loses the dem primary.

Will Jones - Atlanta

April 29th, 2009
9:47 am

Mike123 – You right-wing fascists in America won’t have everything Hitler needed to get elected in Germany. Though you have the Rockefeller/Bush Roman Fifth Column’s “collection plate” money that built Auschwitz and funded the rise of the Nazi Party, you don’t have the majority Roman Catholic population he had to put him over the top.

Also, fyi, America itself is the Big Tent, prophesied to be a New Nation into which all other nations flow. Not much room for the racism your faction holds as its guiding principle along with Roman Catholicism. Did you never wonder why only 9% of Black Americans vote for the Gay Old Perverts and the same 9% of Black Americans want to be up with “Massa” as members of the Roman Catholic Church?

You may have won the Civil War but the Ideals of Our Founding will induce not just Specter to come out of Babylon but millions more as well.

Death for Treason

K. Woods

April 30th, 2009
11:26 pm

Typical Democrat, always flip-flopping