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Former Senator Arlen Specter Dies At Age 82

Former Senator Arlen Specter, who switched party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2009, has died at age 82 due to complications from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He left office after 30 years as U.S, Senator from Pennsylvania, after he lost his Democratic primary bid to then-Congressman Joe Sestak in 2010. Sestak was, in turn, defeated by Pat Toomey, who currently holds Specter’s former seat. Sen. Specter explained his party switch as a result of the Republicans’ rightward shift, but his critics cast the move as a Hail Mary to save his political skin.

From The Associated Press:

HARRISBURG, Pa.  — Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist whose switch from Republican to Democrat ended a 30-year career in which he played a pivotal role in several Supreme Court nominations, died Sunday. He was 82.

Specter, who announced in late August that he was battling cancer, died at his home in Philadelphia from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, said his son Shanin. Over the years, Arlen Specter had fought two previous bouts with Hodgkin lymphoma, overcome a brain tumor and survived cardiac arrest following bypass surgery.

Early in his career, Specter was an investigator for the Warren Commission on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and was co-author of the so-called “single bullet theory.” He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, and was the longest-serving Senator in Pennsylvania’s history.

Sen. Specter leaves behind wife Joan, sons Shanin and Steve, and four granddaughters.

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