Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter died today at the age of 82. The longtime moderate Republican died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He had announced in August a recurrence of the disease, and his son confirmed it as the cause of death. Specter was Pennsylvania’s longest serving Senator, serving 5 terms.
A long time Republican, Specter switched parties in 2009 and joined the Democratic Party. He complained that the Republican Party had become to conservative, and knew he would lose to a more conservative challenger in the primary. The plan backfired, and Specter ultimately lost to a more liberal challenger in the Democratic primary.
Specter ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1996. The Senator was a known moderate, supporting initiatives on both sides of the isle. He was one of the few Republicans to vote for the stimulus bill. Specter was backed by the Democratic establishment in the 2010 primaries, but failed to defeat Joe Sestak.
Specter first fell ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2005. The disease returned in 2008 and again in August, when he had to be hospitalized. The former Senator dealt with many health concerns in the latter years of his life, including a brain tumor, and cardiac arrest following heart surgery. He died in his home in Philadelphia.