Specter is a RINO no longer
GOP Senator Arlen Specter joining Democrats
Associated Press - OneNewsNow - 4/28/2009 11:35:00 AM
WASHINGTON, DC - Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter has announced he is leaving the GOP and will join the Democrats. (Watch news video report)
In a statement released this morning, Specter said that since his election in 1980 as part of the Reagan "Big Tent," the Republican Party has moved far to the right.
According to Specter, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania have changed their registration to be come Democrats. He says: "I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
He says he plans to run for re-election as a Democrat in the 2010 Pennsylvania primary. He has served five terms as a member of the GOP.
The move would give Democrats a 60-seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate -- if Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota.
Associated Press reports that President Obama fully supports the senator's decision, saying the Democratic Party is "thrilled to have you."
Face-off against Toomey?
Specter's strategy apparently is to increase his chances of returning to the Senate for a sixth term. Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania points out that for years the 79-year-old Specter has been described as a RINO -- "Republican in name only." (Listen to audio report)
According to Gramley, Specter has lined up philosophically with Democrats for quite a while. The pro-family activist was asked if the senator has supported the Republican Party platform? "No -- he's not pro-life, he's not pro-family," she emphasizes. "He has not followed the platform of the Republican Party for as long as I can remember."
Will the switch to the Democratic ticket make Specter a stronger candidate in the general election?
"Definitely, it would strengthen Specter's running with the Democrats, but not with Republicans," responds Gramley. "I think that he has definitely cut the last string that ties him to anything Republican."
His chief challenger is Republican conservative Pat Toomey, who Gramley believes will win that primary easily. So the big battle likely will be in the general election in 2010. Specter narrowly defeated Toomey for the Republican nomination in 2004.