WASHINGTON POST: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter [pictured above, with Cookie Monster] 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 senator 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.” He added: “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.” President Obama was informed of Specter’s decision at around 10:25 a.m., according to White House officials, and reached out to the senator minutes later to tell him “you have my full support,” and we are “thrilled to have you.” MORE
REUTERS: As far as the Republican base was concerned, his biggest Achilles’ heel was his support for Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill. That bill passed the U.S. Congress in February with support from only three Republicans — Specter and Maine senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. […] The new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, has his work cut out for him. He has his share of critics. Steele said after Specter, Collins and Snowe voted for the stimulus plan that perhaps the Republican Party should not provide funds to help them win their re-election bids. “Oh, yes, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely,” Steele told the Fox News Channel in February. Republican strategist Scott Reed said: “I always thought Specter would consider switching to become an independent to get re-elected, and it’s too bad that Michael Steele pushed him into the Democrat Party.” MORE
WIKIPEDIA: After graduating from Yale Law School, Specter opened a law practice (Specter & Katz) with Marvin Katz (now Federal District Court Judge in Philadelphia, became an assistant district attorney under District Attorney James Crumlish, and was a Democrat. At the recommendation of Representative Gerald R. Ford, he worked for the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As an assistant counsel for the commission, he authored or co-authored the controversial “single bullet theory,” which suggested the wounds to President Kennedy and non-fatal wounds to Texas Governor John Connally were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore a conspiracy. In 1965, Specter ran for District Attorney, on the Republican ticket as a registered Democrat. He handily beat incumbent Jim Crumlish, and subsequently changed his registration to Republican. Although a death penalty supporter, as prosecutor he questioned the fairness of the Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972. In 1967, he was the Republican Party standard bearer together with City Controller candidate, Tom Gola, in the mayoral campaign against the Democrat incumbent James H. J. Tate. One of their slogans was, “We need THESE guys to watch THOSE guys.” He served two terms as District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. In 1976, Specter ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and was defeated by John Heinz. In 1978, he was defeated in the primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh. After several years of private practice with the prestigious Philadelphia law firm Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Specter ran for the Senate in 1980, this time, successfully. He assumed office in January, 1981. MORE
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