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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan May 1, 2009

Specter's party change shows the Full Flop in its finest form

Yes, this one is a no-brainer. But we can't resist using our Flip-O-Meter to record such a complete reversal of position.

Arlen Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania, was a moderate Republican, and one of only three Republican senators to vote for the economic stimulus bill that passed in February 2009.

But many moderates in Pennsylvania have jumped ship. In the 2008 election, about 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans became Democrats, many so they could vote in the hotly contested Democratic primary between Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

This meant that as Specter looked to re-election next year, his prospects for beating a more conservative challenger — Pat Toomey, a former congressman who headed the free-market, antitax Club for Growth — were looking pretty bad.

Yet Specter had ruled out switching parties, until ... Well, let's look at the evidence.

Specter, in an interview with The Hill on March 17, 2009:

"I'm staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there," he said.

"I think each of the 41 Republican senators, in a sense — and I don’t want to overstate this — is a national asset," he said, "because if one was gone, you'd only have 40, the Democrats would have 60, and they would control all of the mechanisms of government."

Specter, in a news conference on April 28, 2009:

"In the course of the last several months since the stimulus vote, I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls, and have found that the prospects for winning the Republican primary are bleak. I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate ... . But I'm prepared today take on all comers — all comers — in a general election. And therefore, I have decided to be a candidate for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary."

Some of our rulings require a lot of time spent gathering evidence and a finely calibrated review of tricky points. Not this one, though. Like judges in an Olympic diving competition, we know a perfect move when we see it: Full Flop!

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Specter's party change shows the Full Flop in its finest form

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