Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party on Tuesday, saying he has found himself increasingly "at odds with the Republican philosophy."
"This is a painful decision. I know I'm disappointing many of my colleagues," he said at a news conference announcing the move. "The disappointment runs in both directions. "I'm putting principle at the top of the list," he added. The switch puts Senate Democrats one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats. They can reach the 60-seat mark if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race. "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," Specter said. "In the course of the last several months ... I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak." Specter, a five-term Senate veteran, was facing what most political observers believed would have been a tough fight for the Pennsylvania GOP Senate nomination in 2010.