Tuesday, April 28, 2009

party switching

Arlen Specter today joined a long list of politicians who have switched political parties while in office. A wikipedia article on party switching identifies hundreds of politicians who have changed their allegiance.

Some recent high profile switches affecting the Senate include the following (from 2001 CNN article)
• Sen. Strom Thurmond (South Carolina) -- Democrat to GOP, (9/16/64)
• Sen. Phil Gramm (Texas) -- Democrat to GOP (1/5/83), switched while a member of the House
• Sen. Richard Shelby (Alabama) -- Democrat to GOP (11/9/94)
• Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Colorado) -- Democrat to GOP (3/3/95)
• Sen. Bob Smith (New Hampshire) -- GOP to Independent (7/13/99); Independent to GOP (11/1/1999)

Twenty one senators have officially switched parties since 1890. For a list of these senators see http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/senators_changed_parties.htm

Will Specter move his seat in the Senate? One interesting anecdote from the history of party switching comes from Wane Morse's jump from the Republican party to an independent. According to the Senate website referenced above- "When the 83rd Congress commenced in 1953, Morse listed himself as an independent. As the only third-party member on the Senate floor, he did not know where to sit, and set up a folding chair in the aisle between the Republican and Democratic sections. Eventually, he settled on the Republican side of the aisle."

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