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Specter switches parties to win reelection

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But he went too far for GOP conservatives with his Feb. 13 vote for Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package.

“The stimulus vote just energized conservatives in the state against him,” says pollster G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

“That picture of Specter with Obama at the White House was played over and over in our state. Republican activists looked at him and said: 'He’s not one of us,'” Professor Madonna added.

Specter’s move marks the second GOP defection that Senate majority leader Harry Reid has helped engineer.

As deputy Democratic leader in 2001, Senator Reid gave up his own chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to help leverage the defection of then-GOP Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont. That shift gave Democrats control of the Senate.

Talks with Specter had been going on for years, Reid told reporters Tuesday. “I had a long dialogue with Senator Specter about his place in the evolving Republican Party,” he said.

The 60th vote?

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