What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter's Statement

From PoliticsPA:
April 28, 2009

Statement by Senator Arlen Specter

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 specially 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.


Gary said...

Very smart move Senator.

The only Republicans left in PA are of the "frothy" Rick Santorum variety, and they love Toomey...Who makes Santorum look like a left wing operative in comparison.

I think this was inevitable.

zak822 said...

The GOP can keep him. He'll always be a Republican in his heart and that's how he'll vote.

And the nerve, to vote against a major Democratic piece of legislation (Employee Free Choice Act) and then decide he's a Dem?!

Kick this serial liar to the curb; tell him to go spend more time with his family. If they'll have him.

Joshua said...

All the praise being said, he, along with Collins, still stripped the pandemic-preparedness funding from the stimulus bill.

Dave said...

Atrios:Shuster just said that Dems promised not to field primary candidate against Specter. Obviously they can't stop someone from running, but it does mean the state party and the DSCC will throw their weight behind Specter to some degree.It looks to me like Specter made a deal with the Dem leadership: Specter would switch parties if the DNC and DSCC did their best to ensure Arlen wouldn't face any primary challengers.

This is the same sort of crap the DNC and DSCC pulled in 2006 when they anointed Bob Casey Jr. as the de-facto nominee. However I have a feeling it won't be so easy for them this time:

In 2006, the priority for Democrats was ousting Rick Santorum and gaining seats in the Senate. This time around, the Democrats have a majority in the Senate and rank-and-file Dems are less likely to toe the line--especially for a candidate who just switched his political affiliation because it was likely he'd lose his old party's nomination. Casey had the backing of organized labor. Specter's stance on the EFCA has not endeared him to the unions (to put it mildly) and I wouldn't be surprised if the unions back a primary challenger to Specter.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Well, at least he's closer to being a Dem than Casey.

Anonymous said...

Bob Casey is a pretty good Democrat. Yes, he's pro-life, but unlike pro-life counterparts on the right, that's not all Bob Casey is about.

I think what's happening to the GOP right now is a good lesson in the folly and danger of adhering to strict ideological purity in a political party.

We now have one national party and a regional party that has no chance of making it back as a truly national party unless it completely flips on the core social issues that have defined it for 40 years.