Specter as a ‘Reagan Republican’

by Jonathan H. Adler

My very first job in Washington, D.C. was an unpaid internship in Senator Specter’s office after my freshman year in college.  I was immediately struck that there seemed to be more registered Democrats in the office than registered Republicans (and only a few self-identified conservatives).  One Specter staffer was a counsel for the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on which Specter was the ranking member — a staffer who had also worked for Senator Ted Kennedy.

Anyhow, one of the tasks I was assigned that summer was to analyze Specter’s voting record over several years to prove that he voted with President Reagan no less often than other Republican moderates in the Senate — a group that, at the time, included such stalwards as Weicker, Chafee, Hatfield, and Kassebaum.  As I recall, the analysis did show that Specter was not the Republican Senator least likely to support President Reagan’s position, but it would have hardly vindicated a claim that Specter’s a “Reagan Republican.”

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