STATEMENT from Sen. Arlen Specter
April 28, 2009

Statement by Senator Arlen Specter

I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

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.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, 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.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

PRESS RELEASE from Republican National Committee
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Statement from Chairman Steele on Senator Arlen Specter's Decision to Switch to the Democratic Party

WASHINGTON - Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today:

"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.

Let's be honest-Senator 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.

Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."

PRESS RELEASE from Democratic National Committee

For Immediate Release

April 28, 2009


DNC Chairman Tim Kaine Welcomes Arlen Specter to Democratic Party with "Open Arms,"
Praises Senator's Ongoing Support for President's Efforts to Turn Economy Around 


Specter Switch, Election of Scott Murphy in Republican Leaning Congressional District in New York, Shows Republican Party Has Lost Touch with the American People, Kaine Says



Washington, D.C. – Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement on Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to join the Democratic Party and work with Senate Democrats to achieve the President’s vision for a strong and growing economy.


“I am pleased to offer Senator Specter my sincere congratulations on his decision to join the Democratic Party and I welcome him with open arms,” said DNC Chairman Kaine.  “Over nearly three decades in the United States Senate, Senator Specter has represented the people of Pennsylvania with honor, conviction, and an allegiance to deeply held principles that I know will continue to inform his decisions as a member of the Democratic caucus.  Senator Specter courageously supported the President's economic recovery package while most Republicans played politics with our nation's economy.   The Senator's willingness to set politics aside and be part of finding solutions to our nation's problems will find a welcome reception in the Democratic Party.  Coming on the heels of Democrat Scott Murphy's victory in a Republican leaning congressional district in New York state, Senator Specter's decision is additional proof that the Republican Party is in serious trouble because it has lost touch with the American people and their desire for change which was so on display in November.


“As Senator Specter noted, the Republican Party has drifted far to the right and seems more interested in ideology, conflict and obstruction than in working constructively to address the nation's problems, and no longer appeals to moderates, including Senator Specter.  I commend Senator Specter on his decision to work with President Obama and Senate Democrats to help turn our economy around, create jobs and put the country back on the right track.  We are thrilled to welcome Senator Specter into the Democratic fold and he can count on our full support."