Longtime GOP Senate Moderate Arlen Specter Dies

Arlen Specter, the former U.S. Senator who’s storied career ended with a switch from the Republican to Democratic party in 2009, has died at the age of 82 as a result of complications from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He died at his home in Philadelphia.

The Associated Press reported that Specter had previously fought of Hodgkin’s disease twice, survived a brain tumor and overcame cardiac arrest following bypass surgery. Specter had announced in August that he was battling the disease once again.

First elected to the Senate in 1980, Specter has risen to some fame as a result of his work on the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and as a district attorney. The Washington Post reports he was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, with his time in office running from 1980 until 2011. After his switch to the Democratic Party, Arlen Specter lost a primary battle despite the endorsement of President Barack Obama.

The end of Specter’s term in the senate left a void in the political landscape, as he was long a voice for moderates, even as the Republican party inched further to the right. He would often oppose the Democrats, such as helping to defeat President Bill Clinton’s national healthcare plan. Just as often he’d oppose his own party, like the time he voted for Obama’s stimulus bill in 2009. The result was little support on either side, and narrow political victories throughout his career.

Senator Arlen Specter even mounted a brief presidential campaign in 1996, but withdrew before the primaries to endorse Bob Dole.

Specter is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons.