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Democrats

Journal Journal: Arlen Specter (D-PA)

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced today that he will be switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. This gives Democrats 59 seats in the Senate out of 99, one shy of being able to break Republican filibusters. Once Norm Coleman's court case in Minnesota against Al Franken is resolved (where most observers, Democrats and Republicans alike, expect Franken to ultimately win), this will give Democrats that 60th seat.

Senator Specter has already made clear that he does not intend to be a constantly reliable vote on all Democratic issues, particularly the Employee Free Choice Act, a labor priority. This suggests that Democrats should not expect an automatic success on cloture votes, but could lead to a significantly increased percentage of successes. With this body blow to the ability of Republicans to impede President Obama's agenda and reduction of power, speculation has begun that Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine might follow Specter and move to the Democratic majority to preserve their own power in the Senate.

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