Is it any wonder why he's Smerconish's Golden Boy??
Veteran GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday he will switch political parties and run in the Democratic primary in 2010.
Republican voters had sent him to the Senate five times. But faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and the state trending Democratic, Specter issued a statement that he was going to jump ship.
"I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters," Specter said at a news conference on Tuesday. (You've been doing that to Pennsylvanians for years! Why apologize NOW?)
"I can understand their disappointment," he continued. "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."
The switch puts Democrats within one vote of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats currently hold 56 seats in the Senate, and two independents typically vote with the party. Republicans have 41 seats.
With Specter switching sides, Democrats will reach the magical number of 60 if Al Franken, who has been entangled in a protracted court battle with incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, is seated in Minnesota.
Despite the change in political stripes, Specter vowed to remain an independent voice in the Senate.
"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," he said.
"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," he continued.
Specter's departure further fueled anger that had been building since his vote for a $787 billion stimulus package proposed by President Obama and supported by just three Republicans in Congress.
With the switch, Specter now is more likely to face a general election challenge from Toomey, former head of the conservative Club for Growth, who almost defeated Specter in a 2004 GOP primary. Toomey was beating Specter in public opinion polls of GOP primary voters. (You were getting your clock cleaned by Toomey and you still will come November '10!)"Senator Specter's decision today represents the height of political self-preservation,"
said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to get GOP candidates elected.
"Let's be honest -- Sen. Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. "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 Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first," Steele said.
Last week, DeMint reportedly told Specter that he would be supporting Toomey in next year's Republican primary. But it is unclear whether this conversation prompted Specter to switch parties.
Political experts in Pennsylvania note that Specter has alienated the Republican base over the years with his support for abortion rights and gay rights, and other more hard-core conservative issues. His approval rating percentage among Republicans hovered in the 30s, according to a handful of polls conducted this year.
However, Specter's approval among Democrats in his state is high. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised Specter's decision and noted that he has always been willing to work in a bipartisan manner.
"I welcome Sen. Specter and his moderate voice to our diverse caucus, and to continuing our open and honest debate about the best way to make life better for the American people," he said in a statement.
FOX News' Trish Turner and Major Garrett contributed to this report.
Labels: Double Standards, Dumb-o-crats, Liberals Suck, Quisling