In the Republicans worst nightmare, the powerful Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, is said to be contemplating switching to the Democratic party, or running for re-election as a Democrat in 2010. This has not been officially announced, but if it comes to pass, it will put the Democrats in a much stronger position to move their political agenda forward. It will also make Senator Joe Lieberman a lame duck.
Senator Specter has had longtime disagreements with many in his party, and has been a champion for increased medical research spending, including a large increase in the budget for the National Institutes of Health.
In fact, on his web site today this announcement was posted: "U.S. Senator Arlen Specter today introduced legislation that seeks to bridge the chasm between a basic scientific discovery and a new health treatment. The Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Act would create an independent agency dedicated to advancing science from the laboratory into practice.."
Senator Specter can expect a vicious response from his Republican "colleagues" in the House and Senate if and when he makes the official announcement that he is switching parties.
Democrats should consider sending him a welcome message at his website, so that he doesn't only hear negative comments from Republicans.
UPDATE: The NY Times is now reporting that Senator Specter has switched parties. This is great news for President Obama, the Democrats in Congress, and hopefully for the American people if this helps usher in universal health care coverage in the US.