Feather Rustling

Sen. Arlen Specter Swaps Parties, Gives Dems Filibuster-Proof Majority


You need more explanation after that headline?

A Republican since entering the U.S. Senate in 1980, Specter says, “I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.” And when it’s time to vote again? “I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. … 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.”

The 79-year-old has served 30 years in the Senate, not known for always voting along party lines. It’s a smart move if he wants to be re-elected: Pennsylvania is majority Democratic, and perhaps you’ve heard which way the country is swinging these days? (He also avoids a difficult face-off with Rep. Pat Toomey in the primary.)

And did we mention? Swapping parties means the Democrats have a 60-seat filibuster-proof command of the Senate. But the Dems will of course still ask the other side of the aisle for advice, like whether they prefer milk and sugar.