Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter announced he is switching political affiliation to the Democratic Party, a move likely to boost the former Republican’s chances for 2010 re-election.
“Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats,” Specter, 79, said in a release. “I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”
The veteran legislator’s party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-poof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken maintains his lead in a disputed Minnesota Senate race, with Sen. Norm Coleman.
The final decision prompting Specter’s move came with the recent passage of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan. Republican’s derided package as a debt trap filled with pork barrel spending.
Specter, one of the few Republican senators to vote in favor of the plan, says his support caused a rift between he and the Republican Party “which makes our differences irreconcilable.”
Specter is in his fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
“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,” he said.
Michael Steele, Republican National Committee chairman, was not pleased with the decision.
“Sen. 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,” Steele said in a statement released Tuesday.