Specter's statement, in part, reads:
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.
When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.
Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.
I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, RNC Chairman Michale Steele responds:
RNC Chairman Michael Steele put out a statement saying that "some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not." Steele then claimed that "Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind," but because he couldn't win in the GOP primary "due to his left-wing voting record."
I wouldn't call Specter's voting record "left wing" by any stretch of the imagination but compared to the outer limits of exile to which the Republican Party seems hell-bent on sending itself, I'd say hell yeah Specter wants to stay in the Senate and he figured he has a better chance of doing it as a Democrat.
But I have one question: What does this mean for him, Al Franken?