In a stunning (though not completely unexpected) move, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has switched parties. The 79-year old former Republican had been courted before. And had even flirted with the idea of becoming an Independent (sort of the Republicans’ Joe Lieberman). But as late as March Spector told reporters that he had intended to run in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senatorial primary as a Republican. The senator, who would be considered a moderate among Republicans has been at odds frequently with his party as it has been drawn further and further to the right.
A liberal on such issues as abortion and the environment, he had been under increasing fire from his own party and would likely be challenged in the Pennsylvania Senatorial primary next year. "I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," he said in a statement early this afternoon. Saying that he felt his politics were more in line with the Democrats at this point, Specter assured voters and the public that he would likely remain as independent as a Democrat, as he had been as a Republican. "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," he said.
Spector has served in the Senate since 1980, and was selected as one of Time Magazine’s top senators in 2006. His party switch would give the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, should Minnesota Democrat Al Franken be seated.