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Arlen Specter, back with the Philly Dems (VIDEO)

Arlen Specter, back with the Philly Dems (VIDEO)

PHILADELPHIA—Senator Arlen Specter went before his new local party for the first time Monday evening, when the Republican-turned-Democrat briefly addressed the party faithful at the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee’s spring dinner.

Specter, with his wife Joan by his side, entered a ballroom on the Delaware River to friendly greetings—and a warm handshake from Congressman Bob Brady, who heads the city’s Democratic Party. After working the room, he took the stage in front of a crowd whipped into applause by Brady.

“So many people have said to us tonight ‘welcome home, welcome to the party,’ and we’re glad to be here,” Specter said.

It was Specter’s first real moment as a Philadelphia Democrat since he worked as a city prosecutor here in the early 1960s. He was elected District Attorney as a Republican in 1965, and spent the next 44 years in the GOP before what looked sure to be a brutal Republican primary brought him back to the Democrats two weeks ago.

In his brief speech, he talked about his support for President Obama’s stimulus package and his history of crossing party lines. He offered his help in constituent service and in electing Democrats this fall.

“We’re here to be a part of a Democratic sweep in the important elections this year and the important elections to follow,” Specter said.

In a brief interview with, Specter said he would regain the seniority his new Senate colleagues took away from him last week and he acknowledged that the party switch has come with its challenges.

“There are a few bumps in the road,” he said. “But I’ve got good shock absorption.”

•Earlier on Specter says he’ll get back his Senate seniority

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Editor’s Note: As part of’s content-sharing agreements, a version of this article also appears in Metro Philadelphia.

May 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn



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