Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.
Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)
"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."
He added: "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."
Overall, I'm happy. I mean, why shouldn't I be when we will be assured of 60 Senate votes once Al Franken is seated in Minnesota? Still, I have a few reservations.
After all, Specter was one of the key "Senate Moderates" who caved into Bush-Cheney every time he could. He caved on Iraq. He caved on torture. He caved on civil liberties. He's even indicated he might cave on Employee Free Choice. So what should we do?
While I don't always agree with him on everything, I think David Sirota is onto something here. We shouldn't let him get away with opposing the Employee Free Choice Act, especially since he's now a Democrat. We should make sure he supports an all-inclusive ENDA that protects all LGBT workers from wrongful unemployment. We should make sure he supports President Obama's budget and ensure he doesn't try to water it down. Basically, we should exert pressure on Arlen Specter to be more of a Democrat now that he's hoping to win reelection as a Democrat.
Now don't get me wrong. I get that "Snarlin' Arlen" is only doing this so he can reelected next year. Still, he should know that he doesn't get our help as Democrats for nothing. If he wants all the benefits in Pennsylvania of being a Democrat, then Specter needs to at least start acting like a mainstream center-left Democrat.
So am I glad we're closer to having 60 Democrats in the Senate? Sure. I just want to make sure that this is what we're actually getting today.