Maybe the catchy title to this post should be “Has the GOP seen a Specter?,” as in a ghost. I spent yesterday as I am today, on a news boycott. I can’t deal with another story dissecting the first 100 days of this administration. I also do not want to hear anymore stories on swine flu today. I am listening to music today. Unfortunately, news happens whether I am paying attention or not and that was the case yesterday when Senator Arlen Specter, previously a Republican from Pennsylvania, became a Democrat.
Specter is a five term senator and is looking to be re-elected. The biggest problem for him was that his own party was mounting at least one challenger to him in the GOP primary, with more possibles just waiting to jump in. Specter barely survived this antic the last election and most likely would not have survived this time.
While many pundits are saying that this is truly a pure political decision, I think Sen. Specter is doing what is best for the constituency that elected him. Pennsylvania, a neighboring state to my home state of New York, has become more and more moderate. Democrats are taking over more of the state offices. Over 200,000 Republicans changed their registration last year to be able to vote for now President Barack Obama in the primaries. For Specter to best serve the interests of those he represents, he needs to maintain the clout he once had and that he grew and developed since fierst being elected to the US Senate in 1980. A Republican senator who has routinely voted a more moderate line than the caucus would like does not afford his constituents the power that a state like Pennsylvania needs.
While Specter knew he would not win a GOP primary, he also knows that his constituents – the citizenry of Pennsylvania – deserve a senator that can help the state through the tough economic times ahead. He also knows that he can accomplish more with a D after his name at this point in his career, than with an R after it. While it may sound political – after all, that is what politics is all about, it is serving his state that in the end drove Specter to move parties.