LJWorld.com weblogs Congressional Briefing

Specter party switch leaves Brownback 'stunned'


Few people probably thought Tuesday would entail huge developments involving two politicians with Kansas ties.

Most people expect the Senate in the afternoon to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, but the major story of the day in Washington has become the announcement that Pennsylvania moderate Sen. Arlen Specter would switch parties to align with the Democrats.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., told CNN the announcement stunned him. He said he had no idea it was coming.

"Arlen's his own man, but it's not good," Brownback told CNN.

Specter was born in Wichita, and he grew up in Russell, also the hometown of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996.


Shane Garrett 8 years, 10 months ago

Good. A closet democrap, he was going to loose in the next primary anyway. So to save his power he is switching parties.

Sigmund 8 years, 10 months ago

The Democrats should be very happy to have him! Roflmao!

Bob Burton 8 years, 10 months ago

The RINO has come clean, one of Bush's mistakes!!

beawolf 8 years, 10 months ago

"he was going to loose in the next primary anyway. "...

But now he will win the election.

The Far Right is going to destroy the Republican Party. 2010 will see another increase in the Democratic majority and in 2012 the Libertarians and the Green party will be on equal footing with the Republicans.

Keith 8 years, 10 months ago

"More room on the sinking ship."

There, I fixed that type for you.

Katara 8 years, 10 months ago

"Arlen's his own man, but it's not good," Brownback told CNN." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yes, because thinking for yourself is a very very bad thing, Mr. Brownback.

beatrice 8 years, 10 months ago

Sweet! Once Al Franken is finally named as the winner in Minnesota the Dems will have the 60 votes necessary to stop Republican filibusters.

beawolf 8 years, 10 months ago

beatrice (Anonymous) says…

Sweet! Once Al Franken is finally named as the winner in Minnesota the Dems will have the 60 votes necessary to stop Republican filibusters......

Or more! I have a feeling more Republicans may jump ship before 2010.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 10 months ago

Hey farfle, Tell that to Lynn Jenkins. She seems to subscribe to the fall in lock step with the GOP.

think_about_it 8 years, 10 months ago

He has voted against the Republicans in the Senate 58 times just since the start of this year. 58 times in 4 months! His vote went to the Democrats anyway.

He was one of the 3 flippers on the porkulous bill and never represented his constituents.

No change here until 2010.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 10 months ago

This is the only time in the last 8 years that I have wanted to thank George W. Bush. Thank him for making such a mess that his Republican Party people are beginning to jump ship. Look for more by 2010.

beawolf 8 years, 10 months ago

"He was one of the 3 flippers on the porkulous bill and never represented his constituents."....

Actually he did and it is why he switching parties.

Over 200,000 Pennsylvanians have switched party affiliation. I imagine that number will continue to grow as the Republicans continue to throw moderates and conservatives under the bus as they embrace the hard core right wing.

The next step is a Limbaugh/Colter ticket for 2012.

Tom McCune 8 years, 10 months ago

The theofascists, neocons, and bloviators have driven the Republican party down to roughly the same level of credibility as the Flat Earth Society, IMHO as a registered Republican.

Tom McCune 8 years, 10 months ago

...and the notions of heavier-than-air flight and suffrage for women would also probably leave Brownback equally stunned....

RedwoodCoast 8 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like Specter is simply abandoning a sinking ship.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 10 months ago

and the generational shift away from the party of traitors, liars and thieves continues.......

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

I am not particualrly with either party, Anti-Dem, I think the Sibelius veto of the power plants will come back to haunt us, there is NO ALTERNATIVE AT PRESENT for new coal fired plants and the distribution grid, sorry Mr. Obama.

Anti Repub, I think George Bush was the most destructive choice the Republicans could have made and only won from the Florida debacle and his daddy's name. Furthermore, the religious wrong hijacking of the party was the worst event that they could have endured, these religion wackos think they are "right" and their "god" tells them so. Their "god" is power, control and visibility. And the presence of Rush "Puss Bimbo" Limbaugh on their screen, this bilious, non-conservative huckster for his t-shirts, hats and glad-rag newsletter is the worst visible scab on the Republican Party today. The Dems were very aware of this when they floated him for a candidate for the next Rebublican meat show. I think the Republicans will have a long haul to repair the damage they have foisted on themselves.

beatrice 8 years, 10 months ago

Republicans aren't completely dead -- they still have Bobby "The Exorcist" Jindal and Sarah "The Wink" Palin.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

Beatrice, have you been keeping up with the soap opera with "Moose Lady" 's daughter, her out of wedlock baby, and the strife with the former fiance and father of the child???? Such classy and elegant people, this Sara Palin and family.

This is better than "Day's of our Lives"!

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 10 months ago

Has anybody heard Steele's comments on this? With someone like this as the RNC chair no wonder Specter jumped ship!

Janet Lowther 8 years, 10 months ago

As the religious right drives moderates out of the Republican Party, the Congress gets more and more Democratic. Fancy that. Note that the incoming Democratic Governor of Kansas was a Republican for many years.

If the religious right keeps pushing things the way it has been the last ten or twelve years, things are liable to get so polarized that folks alive today will live to see another civil war. I might not, but then some days I feel like I ought to be able to remember the last one. . .

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

beatrice (Anonymous) says…

"Sweet! Once Al Franken is finally named as the winner in Minnesota the Dems will have the 60 votes necessary to stop Republican filibusters."

Which is the best possible thing that could happen (not that anything "happened" - it's not as if Specter actually voted like a Republican). Until now, the Republicans have had to walk a thin line between opposition and obstructionism. Now the Dems will be in complete control - and in 2012, with the whole country in thr cr*pper, they will have nobody else to try to pin the blame on.

yankeevet 8 years, 10 months ago

This Rat just wants too keep a govt. job;....as he could not make that kind of money on the ouside....

straightforward 8 years, 10 months ago

rooster (Anonymous) says…

Hey farfle, Tell that to Lynn Jenkins. She seems to subscribe to the fall in lock step with the GOP.

Most Kansans are fairly conservative. It would seem she is standing up for her constituency. You may disagree with her, but no matter how big your head is, you are still just one person.

jaywalker 8 years, 10 months ago

beawolf: 100% with ya on the first half of your 2:18 post, but ya mighta jumped the shark with the second half. Libertarians will make some headway, but not that much. The Green Party, whose nominee was Cynthia Mckinney this last go round? She's from my neck of the woods. Any party that backs someone like her has a looong way to go.


You might think woo hoo for the majority, but it's rarely a good thing no matter who has it. I think democracy works best as a compromise.

63BC 8 years, 10 months ago

He told the people of Pennsylvania he was a Republican. They elected him.

Then he switched without giving them another say-so.

The honorable way to switch parties is to serve as you were elected and then seek a new term as a member of a new party.

That's how Senators Phil Gramm and Joe Lieberman did it.

Specter lied to the people of Pennsylvania.

Effectively, the people who wanted to vote for a Republican for Senate were disenfranchised retroactively. They voted "Republican" and still got a Democrat. They weren't given a choice. That's wrong.

That is dishonorable.

AjiDeGallina 8 years, 10 months ago

I feel switching parties should be forbidden while holding office as it betrays the voters.

That being said, I do not see this as a victory for the Dems as much as a damning conviction of the failure and implosion of the extreme right of the party. They have torn their party apart and have failed themselves and America.

Instead of learning from their tragic errors, they continue to try and cling to hot-button issues and sound-bites and remain out of touch with the American People.

Megan McCain had it right, ..to paraphrase, it is a matter of staying a dinosaur or joining the 21st Century, and unless they realize how to represent mainstream America, they will continue to dwindle in numbers.

I know there will be a swing back, and I think there should be. I prefer a more balanced House and Senate personally as the government should not govern from the right nor the left, but should reflect the majority of the people who fall somewhere inbetween.

Once the dinosaurs die, as I believe they are too ignorant to learn, things will balance out again.

but those darn Palins keep breeding (out of wedlock)

feeble 8 years, 10 months ago

Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says…

“Specter saw the writing on the wall when it came to his re-election. He knew he couldn’t beat the younger, more politically pure, fiscally savvy former Congressman Pat Toomey who announced just a few weeks ago. Specter was trailing some 20 plus points in the Pennsylvania primary last week according to some polls.”

The important caveat Tom is that those -20 points come from approval ratings from folks likely to vote in the GOP primary.

Over 60% of registered dems in PA approve of Spector, and the dems carried PA by a wide margin. The dem leadership has already announced they are getting behind Spector, and his only credible opposition in the Dem primary as announced he won't run against Spector.

Spector will carry PA handily, by 5-8%, and go on to serve another term, unless the GOP can bring in the swing voters.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 10 months ago

"The important caveat Tom is that those -20 points come from approval ratings from folks likely to vote in the GOP primary."

A collection of yahoos and gun freaks, Christers, racists, women-haters and half-wits. And a shrinking collection at that.

Specter would not have made the move if it was to his advantage to play to them. It is not. The repuglican party is twirling rapidly down the drain of inconsequence.

Rex Russell 8 years, 10 months ago

The Republican Party has left a lot of people in the last few years. The last few years have seen the peoples response to that fact. Moderate Republicans just don't make the grade anymore. Moderate doesn't equal RINO either. They are moderate and less partisan. I wasn't a RINO either when on my last day as a Republican, I went down to the courthouse to switch to Independant. One of the major issues has been the National party running and supporting ultra conservatives over established moderates to cleanse and purge the party in primaries and elections. After Specter's vote on the stimulus bill, I'm sure his Repulican colleagues in the Senate indicated to him they would support his challenger in the upcoming election cycle. They will continue to eat their own until they are a very small slice of the political pie-or defunct.

beawolf 8 years, 9 months ago

I've been an independent all my life. I've always believed you should vote for the person not the party, but unfortunately party platforms are also tied to the candidates. In the past both parties have allowed for individualistic thinking and voting as long as they supported the main party goals/ideals such as health care, education etc. etc. The current "mob" mentality of the Republican Party is something I haven't seen in the last 40 years. "If your not 100% with us, your against us" leaves little room for the conservatives who may lean to the middle. Common sense tells you this is political suicide.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 9 months ago

Reading the story and especially the comments from both sides really makes me regret not being traditionaly partisan. I always wanted to be a cheerleader. You get to yell and scream about the good/bad work that other people are doing, and you never have to do any work, or have an original thought for yourself. Luxury!!

feeble 8 years, 9 months ago

Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says…

Feeble, why did you even make your 12:23 am post?

The fox blog paints a picture of a politician facing overwhelming defeat. The facts are, that Spector remains popular with his constituents and has overall positive approval ratings from his half of the state.

Futher, Spector has been incredibly upfront about the reason for the change, citing the primary as part of his official announcement. He also named names of other moderates primaried out by the Republicans, such as Lincoln Chafee, only to see those seats go Blue in the general election.

This quest for "Political Purity" among the GOP is madness, and the GOP has quite clearly closed the doors to the big tent pitched by Reagan. This idea that if things get bad enough, the US will toss aside the Dems and allow the Republicans to swoop in and save the day is infantile.

Reagan and Goldwater spent years building that strong conservative base, even then only took power after co-opting Rockfeller republicans, whom I'm sure would be identified as RINO today.

You wonder why anyone can attribute anything good to the congressional dems or president? It's because 80% of Americans personally like or admire the President, and 80% of Americans, rightly or wrongly, blame the past administration and GOP-controlled congress of 200-2007 for the economic downturn.

Rex Russell 8 years, 9 months ago

The reality is that The current GOP more closely resembles the Dixiecrats of post war 50's / 60's America and not the Reagan Era Republicans of the '80's. This one of the greatest reasons for defection.

staff04 8 years, 9 months ago

NRSC promised Specter they would support him against Toomey, but Specter saw that for what it was--thinly disguised. He also would have lost to Toomey, which is exactly what party leadership want--a concentrated circle of young ideologues with which they can command the way Tom DeLay did the House a few years ago.

This move actually will do little as far as the dynamic of the Senate goes unless you tack a couple more D's in there over the next few years. Specter will still be a swing vote in a VERY powerful position. His baby has always been the NIH...he could make it his legacy over the next couple of Congresses by holding his swing vote hostage.

beawolf 8 years, 9 months ago


Knock, Knock anyone home? Of course he knew he was going to lose. His constituency does not support the Far Right Republican platform (nor does he). 200,000 Republican Pennsylvanians have recently switched parties. To quote, ""I was unwilling to subject my 29-year record in the U.S. Senate to the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate," What other options did have? When your party becomes obstructionist, close minded and is doomed to failure, you leave.

monkeyspunk 8 years, 9 months ago

The GOP is dead, long live the GOP.

Moderate republicans have two choices, switch or get out of the way. More popular congressmen and women can do this, and I expect that they will, others will get voted out because the GOP is more conservative than ever. If you are a moderate Republican voter, eventually you will realize that the men and women representing you in DC do not share the same values and beliefs that you do, and you too will leave.

I called this months ago and it proves how broken Washington is. When a party is defeated they should work with the new leadership, not continue the nastiness of the election and drive a wedge deeper into the country. The Dems did before, and now the Republicans are doing it. The Dems survived it and came out stronger, the GOP will not.

tonymontana 8 years, 9 months ago

So let me get this straight. He switched from evil party to evil party? Why is this news?

professor 8 years, 9 months ago

Reading these blogs just proves that neophytes are everywhere. Even in a supposed "college town". I am still searching the globe for signs of intelligent life!!

Wake up neophytes!! The two party dictatorships that we have been living under for generations is the problem, not the answer. Power and fortune corrupt the corruptible, and we have an entire political culture that has fallen prey to corruption!! Throw them ALL out and start over!!!!!

BrianR 8 years, 9 months ago

What the BWR refuses to acknowledge is that Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP as much as the GOP left him. He only became a "moderate" when the Party bent over and took it from the RRR.

slowplay 8 years, 9 months ago


Are you really as dense as your posts indicate? Are you actually trying to say that he should have stayed a Republican even though the party no longer represents his constituency?

deskboy04 8 years, 9 months ago

The far right has control of the party. They will continue to lose elections and members until this changes.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Spector changing parties says a lot about how the republican party is still going downhill and how things have not changed since Reagan/Bush/Gingrich.

Apparently Spector has been voting out of step lately so the neoconservative party control decided it was time to replace Arlen,with a neoconservative, as they have been doing for the past 30 years. The rigid neoconservative party money goes elsewhere still leaving true republicans nowhere to go.

What will happen with Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe? Are the neoconservative party control going after them as well?

A Pennsylvania primary race might be good for the democrats. If a very smart moderate democrat steps up and can win, then one less republican is around. It all depends on how Spector votes. However Spector has been around long enough as have many special interest funded democrats.

The country perhaps needs to consider how to begin breaking the special interest money choke hold on our politics at both the city and national levels. When I suggest replacing 95% of all incumbents I am not suggesting bringing in more republicans who represent the very radical neoconservative party, which controls the party and the polticial campaign money. Let's talk moderate thinkers both democrats,green thinkers etc etc.

Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths. Replace 95% of all elected officials every 4 years for the house and every 6 years for the Senate.

Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing. In fact it's more like supporting what a voter doesn't want.

The big money candidates/incumbents are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. This includes democrats. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? According to "Selling Out" senators need to raise $34,000 a day.

We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

Lets’s demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/ Demand a change on the next ballot.

We voting taxpayers might see the value in thinking outside the box to take OUR government and OUR tax dollars back.

Rex Russell 8 years, 9 months ago

You can expect the GOP leadership to talk very carefully and very nice to Olympia Snow And Susan Collins for a while. They are true independant thinkers. Not cut from the idealogical pure breeds that run the show. They can't stand the free thinkers but they need them even more now. Now is really the time for a 3rd moderate sensible party to spring up from the throw aways from the GOP and the Blue Dog Democrats.

beawolf 8 years, 9 months ago

The Republicans need to get back to the moderate conservative values that were prevalent during the Reagan years. Denounce the Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter rhetoric and start talking to people again. It should not be about what's wrong with the Democrats, but what's right with the Republicans.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

Beatrice, have you been keeping up with the soap opera with “Moose Lady” 's daughter, her out of wedlock baby, and the strife with the former fiance and father of the child???? Such classy and elegant people, this Sara Palin and family. This is better than “Day's of our Lives”!

As a single mother I am appalled at this remark. There are many single parents in Lawrence and many families with problems and difficulties to deal with as best they can. Why the pleasure in the pain that Governor Palin's family is going though? Which has what to do with Senator Specters decision to join the Democratic party?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.