It is now being reported that sometime later today, the five-term Republican Senator from Pennsylvania is going to switch parties and run as a Democrat. The consequences of this action are huge. Whether it be the 60 seat "filibuster-proof" majority for the Democratic caucus, the stinging blow to an increasingly fringe Republican party or Pennsylvania's final affirmation that it is no longer a swing state but one that is solid blue, this is monumental news.
From The Washington Post:
"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."
That has to hurt if you are Mitch McConnell or one of his
forty thirty-nine caucus members. Then again, it should have been expected, because there was no other way for Specter to have gone unless he purposefully wanted to lose next year's primary election. The Republican party in PA, like the rest of it nation wide is moving far to the right and away from not only Arlen's political philosophy, but many other Americans as well.
Politically speaking, this gives the Republican nomination to Club for Growth's Pat Toomey on a platter and wipes out any Democrat who was thinking of going in to the race. Toomey's victory though will be short-lived, because come November of 2010, Specter will be looking ahead to his sixth term, only this time with a (D) at the end of his name.
Though as Kos notes, he stays anti-EFCA, a very odd way to start off as a Dem representing Pennsylvania.
The more I think about this, while it sounds good as a story for a story's sake, having Specter stay in and not be replaced by a more liberal, actual Democrat is overall a bad thing for PA. Pennsylvania needs someone that isn't like Joe Lieberman. Progressives down there need to come up with a quick plan if they are going to get someone in the race that will actually stand up for the unions, not just a senator that (after several months) had the wherewithall to switch parties so that he'd remain a senator.