Senator Arlen Specter, in a major development, announced today that he is running for re-election as a Democrat. Specter was facing an almost certain loss in the Republican primary to Club for Growth guru Pat Toomey, who led Specter by over 10 points in some recent polling. Chris Cillizza of The Fix at the Washington Post broke the story this morning. Specter would have to be considered a big favorite in a general election campaign against Toomey, if he can safely secure the Democratic nomination. Specter’s switch will now bring the Democratic caucus in the Senate to 60 after the arrival of Al Franken of Minnesota. From the Specter statement:
“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.” …
“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.”
So the Republicans drive out another moderate, and their numbers continue to dwindle. Specter had been heavily criticized by Toomey for supporting the Obama stimulus bill. He was one of only three Republicans to do so.