Following the surprising news that Sen. Arlen Specter is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, Politico writes that one of the last Republican moderates, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), “didn’t seem surprised” by Specter’s announcement:
“I’m stunned … I’m very surprised. I had no idea this was coming,” said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) “I’m stunned.” But Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) a fellow moderate, didn’t seem suprised. On the national level, she says, “you haven’t certainly heard warm encouraging words of how they [Republicans] view moderates. Either you are with us or against us.”
According to Politico, Specter made his “final move” to switch parties after “a recent poll showed him badly losing a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year.” Snowe was most recently elected in 2006, so she won’t face re-election until 2012.
Ryan Grim reports:
Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, said Tuesday that Arlen Specter’s abandonment of the GOP is “devastating,” both “personally and I think for the party.”
“I’ve always been deeply concerned about the views of the Republican Party nationally in terms of their exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans,” said Snowe, who has been approached, she said, by Democrats in the past about switching parties.
Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party “underscores the blunt reality” that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates, she said.
,On Ben Smith’s blog, Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian notes that “within a year of the 1994 GOP takeover of the House, five House Democrats and two Senate Democrats — Richard Shelby and Ben Nighthorse Campbell — had switched parties.”