MSNBC is now reporting confirmation from Senator Arlen Specter’s office that he is in fact switching parties. The Washington Post apparently broke the news minutes ago.
I don’t have time to write a long post on this. But this is going to be interesting. Specter is not going to suddenly become a raging progressive but will be more Leibermanesque I would have to guess. So, in theory, the Democrats have the much sought after 60th vote. But what will they have to do to get that 60th vote on board?
The changing demographics in Pennsylvania brought this about. Progressives in Pennsylvania will be better off with Specter rather than Toomey — and it appears those were the two choices because the Democratic challenger is said to not have been likely to beat either one. The DNC must have agreed since they accepted Specter’s switch.
But still, there will be a tendency for Specter to try, naturally enough, to pull the Democratic caucus to the right. The progressives in Specter’s new constituency, naturally enough, will resist that pull and work instead to bring him further to the left.
How this all plays out will be fascinating. My initial guess is that Leiberman will play no small role in the drama that unfolds.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo makes an interesting point about the effect of last year’s presidential election on the makeup of the parties in Pennsylvania.