The Specter Switch

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Tom Waseleski

So. Will Arlen Specter be better off as a Democrat? No doubt that will give him an easier path to winning another term next year. Many Pennsylvania Democrats already admire Specter -- something that was particularly easy to do when Rick Santorum, the attack-dog conservative, was his Republican Senate mate from the state. Imagine the votes he'll get now that he's entered the Democratic fold. The Toomey campaign can fold its tent.

His move, though, comes as a bit of a surprise. Sen. Specter met with the PG editorial board on April 16 and was asked about a party switch -- if not to the Democrats, then at least to Independent. He had several reasons for staying, he said, one of which was preserving moderate ideology within the Republican Party. My colleague, Dan Simpson, wrote a column the following week that urged Arlen to take the leap. Maybe the piece was a pivotal push.

Could be Specter now thinks his old party is a lost cause. No one needs further proof than 1) President Obama's popularity, despite misery on all fronts, and 2) the Republicans' failure to have a program of response beyond the word "no." For the Philadelphia senator, the move left could well turn out to be right.


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