A registered Democrat in 1965, Specter ran for District Attorney on the Republican ticket. He handily beat incumbent Jim Crumlish, thereafter changing his registration to Republican, temporarily as it turns out. Specter the Republican revered to his old party a short while ago and became a Democrat when polls showed him loosing to Club For Growth head Pat Toomey, an upstart Republican very much like Ned Lamont. Described by the Pennsylvania Report in 2003 as one of the "vanishing breed of Republican moderates," Specter now has vanished into the maw of the Democratic Party.
If all this seems a little opportunistic, it is.
If it seems confusing, it may be because in places like Pennsylvania and Connecticut political parties have become clubs rather than political organizations. The real parties are the incumbent politicians. Lieberman and Specter are petite political parties. They have their own constituencies, their own staffs, their own money machines, and their own newspapers, sometimes called in the business “press releases.” For someone like Specter, a political party is nothing more that the flag under which he chooses to wage a political campaign.
Over at Political Mavens.com, Matthew Harrington points out some of the ironies as viewed from the Republican corner of the political barracks:
“Arlen Specter’s departure from the Republican party is a delicious irony. For the past two decades, conservatives in the party have been told that they need to abandon their principles in order to protect “northeast Republicans” like Arlen Specter, Lowell Weicker, Susan Collins, James Jeffords and Olympia Snow.
“In 2004, the national GOP refused to support a true conservative and instead backed Specter. President George Bush and the Republican establishment strongly supported Specter on the grounds that the Republicans could ill afford to lose the seat. They poured thousands of dollars and countless man-hours into Specter’s campaign. Five years later, Specter returns the favor by walking away only three weeks after assuring the national electorate that the loss of a single Republican seat would be a disaster for the Republic.”
Connecticut Bob expresses his distaste for oily politicians and the congressional good old boy network from the left.