Today Senator Arlen Specter, R-PA, announced his decision to switch to the other party. Specter has consistently voted with Democrats in the Senate and was a known target for the switch by the Democrats on behalf of Barack Obama.
So be it.
Senator Specter is up for re-election in 2010. He is facing a serious challenge from Pat Toomey. Specter is down in the polls by more than 20% according to a Rasmussen poll released on 4/24/09. Specter began his career as a Democrat when he ran for Prosecutor in Philadelphia, calling himself a "Kennedy Democrat." He turned on the Democrats as a means of political expediency. Now he turns on the Republicans. He claims the Republican party left him. He has proven to be not just a social liberal but also a fiscal liberal by casting his vote for the Obama spending bill, with only two other Repubicans in the Senate. Seems he left the party himself.
Toomey is the former president of Club for Growth, a group promoting anti-tax positions. Specter's unfavorable numbers rose when he became one of only three U.S. Senators to vote for President Obama's massive spending bill, full of earmarks. Rasmussen Reports called Specter's numbers as "stunningly poor" for a long time politician. 55% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Specter.
Specter, fearing loss in the Republican primary, began running an ad this month blaming Toomey for supporting privatization of social security and limiting oversight of Wall Street as a congressman. Specter certainly sounds like a Democrat by his own advertisement.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and he released the following statement:
"Senator Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation. While this presents a short-term disappointment, voters next year will have a clear choice to cast their ballots for a potentially unbridled Democrat super-majority versus the system of checks-and-balances that Americans deserve.”
That sums it up nicely. Specter decided to put his own political survival over the best interests of his own party. He claims he was a strong Republican for the past 30 years. He certainly enjoyed riding the coattails of Ronald Reagan's popularity and being in the majority thanks to Reagan. Now the times are tougher and he bails.
Good riddance. Let's see how long the glow lasts with the Democrats. Can anyone say "Jim Jeffords"?