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Sen. Specter switches sides

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 28, 2009 | 1:22 pm

Sen. Arlen Specter, who was, amazingly, one of two Republican Jews in the Senate, has switched sides. Once Al Franken is sworn in—his victory is being challenged—the Democrats will have the 60-person super majority that will enable them to bypass filibusters. But Specter says in a statement that he won’t be a party-line guy:

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.

We’ll see. Social conservatives are already on the outside looking in. If Specter’s vote now regularly swings left, they could find it almost impossible to have a voice.

Surprisingly, what eight at-times tense years of the Bush administration couldn’t do to Specter’s relationship with the Republican Party, the stimulus package could:

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.

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