And now, he has taken a step that puts Democrats even closer to passing climate change and immigration reform and NCLB reauth, oh my!
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch parties and run for reelection next November as a Democrat, he announced today, a decision that could have wide-ranging consequences for the Senate and President Obama's agenda.
"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a statement released this morning. "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 move brings Democrats to 59 seats in the Senate, just one shy of the 60 they need to exert filibuster-proof control over the chamber. In Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken holds a 312-vote lead over former senator Norm Coleman (R), but Coleman has appealed the result to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are expected to begin in June.
Specter's announcement, coming on the eve of Obama's 100th day in office, sent shockwaves through political circles.
Obama was informed of the decision at 10:30 a.m. today during his daily economic briefing. Minutes later he spoke to Specter by phone, telling him, "You have my full support," and adding, "We are thrilled to have you."
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