Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's stunning decision to switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party is a body blow to Sen. John Cornyn, who is the chairman of the Senate Republican re-election committee.
Cornyn, who leaned on Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to stay this year to ensure Democrats didn't reach a filibuster-proof 60 majority, is now looking at a Senate with 60 Democrats. There are 58 Democrats -- with Specter it will be 59 -- and analysts anticipate that the disputed Minnesota race will end with Democrat Al Franken being seated. Franken won the latest legal round and leads former Sen. Norm Coleman by 312 votes.
Specter (above), up for re-election in 2010 for his 6th term, was facing a conservative opponent in the GOP primary. According to Specter, he decided to switch when polls showed him behind.
Cornyn, who had written a letter to Keystone Republicans last month supporting Specter, was blunt in reacting to the switch: “Senator Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation. While this presents a short-term disappointment, voters next year will have a clear choice to cast their ballots for a potentially unbridled Democrat super-majority versus the system of checks-and-balances that Americans deserve.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Specter made his move "in the face of a seemingly insurmountable bid for re-election next year."
-- Maria Recio