UPDATE: Freeper reaction below the fold.
From the New York Times:
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said he would switch to the Democratic party Tuesday, potentially presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters as they try to advance the Obama administration’s new agenda.
Congressional aides and others close to the long-time Republican party maverick said Mr. Specter, who faced a difficult re-election next year, was going to announce he would become a Democrat.
If Al Franken prevails in his ongoing court case in Minnesota and Mr. Specter begins caucusing with Democrats, Democrats would have 60 votes and the ability to deny Republicans the chance to stall legislation. Mr. Specter was one of only three Republicans to support President Obama’s economic recovery legislation.
Democrat leaders expressed their enthusiasm. President Obama was handed a note from an aide at 10:25 a.m. on Tuesday during his daily economic briefing. The note, according to a senior administration official, said: “Specter is announcing he is changing parties.” …
NOTE FROM PAM: Boy the Republican brand really sucks big time, doesn’t it? How many rats are going to jump ship? Here’s the EPIC FAIL reaction from RNC chair Michael Steele:
“Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.
Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. 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.”
Obama ‘thrilled to have’ Specter
President Barack Obama talked to Sen. Arlen Specter at 10:32 this morning from the Oval Office, said Dems are “thrilled to have you,” according to a White House aide.
Obama was informed of Specter’s decision to switch parties at 10:25 this morning while receiving his daily economic briefing in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.
BTW, Specter’s full statement is below the fold, as well as Freeper reaction.Here is his statement:
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.
And what are they saying in the swamps?
Actual Freeper Quotes
I hope he’s as big a pain in the ass to the Dems as he was to the GOP.
Thanks for nothing, Arlen!
No, no, no!! This is GREAT news for conservatives!! :-) 2010 is just around the corner. Big changes will be coming as liberal extremists like Arlen Specter will get voted out of congress!! The bottom line is that everyone has a wallet, and all this taxing and spending will be in full force come election time! Kiss most of the dems in congress goodbye then!
I’m not too concerned about it. The democrats already had a fillibuster proof majority with Specter on “our” side.
All three of them (Snowe, Collins and Specter) have no conservative values anyway. If they were honest, they never would have run as Republicans to begin with. Dishonesty abounds in Washington from the president on down.
Didn’t make any difference: the Dems were willing to prostitute the “reconciliation” procedures to pass legislation with a simple majority, and as far as confirmations go, the stinking RINOs in the Senate have a habit of rolling over anyway. We made this situation inevitable as long as we tolerated Bush’s “big government” pseudo-conservatism and the Republicans’ K-Street corruption racket.
Crap?? – this is great! We get rid of a RINO and send him as a DINO into the enemy camp. This now ‘cleanses’ the way for more conservatives. I hope McCain goes too!
He saw that he was far behind Toomey, and made a deal with Obama and Fast Eddie. This is a smart thing to do from his point of view. He’d have had far more credibility had he’d stayed indie like Lieberman. Now he just looks like he ‘s trying to save his ass. Oh well, at least he help get Alito and Roberts through. Give him that much.
And then we can have real elections … Have you noticed how the progressives straddle the aisle. Won’t be long now, before we wonder where the Constitution went, and how we let it slip away. It’s time to out them for what they are, progressives who want to destroy the Constitution. Most Americans do not live their lives the way the progressives want them to, and don’t intend to change.
So, I apologize for my ignorance, but does that occur TODAY, or do we wait until 2010? Seems kind of shady a man can run as a (R) and then change midstream and serve as a (D)….<>Oh wait, I guess he was doing that already….Hmmmm
And how much money did the G.O.P. give to this bastard to help him get re-elected?
Not to mention G.W. Bush helping to get his sorry butt re-elected, nice going G.W., not that we needed another REAL republican.
Nothing is filibuster proof. Truth is not all democrats feel thrilled about what us going on in the country. No guarantee that Arlen will even be around next time. He knew he would lose to Toomey so he is trying to find a place to hide. Won’t work with those who supported him the first time. Won’t work with the lefties who didn’t support him last time
Whether the Dems have a filibuster-proof majority or not doesn’t matter. Does anybody believe that the Republicans in the Senate would ever have had the motivation or the guts actually to employ a real filibuster? The answer isn’t no, it’s HELL no.
Et tu, Sphincter? Useless traitor and backstabber
It’s irrelevant. He’s not switching parties since we only have a one socialist Republicrat party system.
Curb your enthusiasm. A filibuster-proof Senate working with Obama will be able to do a great deal of damage to the Republic before the new Congress is seated in 2011. It is waaay too early to celebrate. Specter has always been a worm, and the biggest mistake Bush made was making sure he got re-elected the last time. This sucks for several different reasons.
What took you so long, Judas?
Great news! Remove the cancer grow the party…
Specter’s always been a….well….lady of easy virtue (don’t wanna get banned for using more direct terms).As of today he’s officially “out of the closet”.Ira Einhorn’s best buddy on earth is an excellent fit for today’s RAT Party.
I’m increasingly convinced that the powers that be will have martial law in place before that election-and possibly WWIII. Will be interesting to see if they allow it, or not.
The GOP gave this man thousands of dollars to run as a republican. They stood up for him, helped him when he needed it, and how does he repay them now? Defection. This just goes to show that Spector was never in “it” for the people, he was in it for himself. Now the voters of PA have to finally vote him out of office once and for all. Anyone know how this will play out? Does he have a chance of re-election as a socialist?
Now the Dems will be able to pass their hard leftwing spending bills with impunity! Oh wait, they could do that before with an R beside Specter’s name.
Arlen is a perfect example of a RAT leaving a sinking ship.
Curb your pessimism a little too…If this country is so far gone that we can’t get enough conservatives and independents to take the country back after Obambi gets through then it just doesn’t matter. Specter was always a democrat now he has to run as one. Don’t think the dems in Penn. are just going to lay down for him he very well may split the liberal vote and get the pub elected.
It’s also worth noting that Specter is an old man — so the 2010 election might very well be his last. Good riddance to the old f#cker.
Listen, restoring the conservative mantle is the first step in restoring party credibility for the Republicans. They should actively seek to purge their ranks of Schwarzeneger, McCain, Spectre, Snowe and Collins for starters. If they could get rid of all of these and replace them with real conservatives, that’d be a real plus. Next, they need a real public mia copa on the spending of the Bush administration and they need to promise not to ever do it again. Finally, they need real leadership. Right now, all I see is the second tier ranks of supporters. A real leader must emerge. Once that happens, the brand can be reintroduced. Incidentally, that’ll be about the time Americans will be fed up with Obama and the socialists. If all of this can be accomplished in three years, then Barry will be the one term affirmative action realization and demise.