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Arlen Specter was Philadelphia District Attorney and was elected to the senate five times. He helped initiate the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
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Although he gained his party's support, Specter suspended his campaign before the Republican primaries in order to endorse Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Dole lost the election to President Clinton.
Specter was re-elected to the Senate in 1998, and again in 2004. During his Senate tenure, he sided with conservatives on some divisive issues,
and with liberals on others. His voting record was almost precisely at the midpoint of the Senate. Specter once stated that he was "personally opposed to abortion," but was "a supporter of a woman's right to choose." He also strongly supported the death penalty and opposed most gun control. Additionally, he supported affirmative action and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
In 1998 and 1999, Specter criticized his party for its impeachment of President Bill Clinton, claiming that Clinton had not received a fair trial. Specter also worked for the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which the Senate passed in July 2005. Republicans attempted to block the agreement in December, but the bill passed in March 2006. In July 2006, Specter called for an independent commission to investigate the incarceration policies at Guantanamo, but the Defense Department blocked him from holding a hearing there.
On February 16, 2005, Specter announced that he had been diagnosed with an advanced form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer. Specter continued his work during chemotherapy and ended treatment in July of 2005. In April of 2008, Specter announced the return of his lymphoma, and underwent a second round of chemotherapy. He went back into remission in July of 2008. Beginning in the early 2000s, Specter played a major role in encouraging medical research.
Initially saying he would run for Senate re-election in 2010 on the Republican ticket, Specter shocked Washington on April 28, 2009, when he announced he was switching his party affiliation, returning to the Democratic Party. Claiming that he had grown increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy, Specter lost the Democratic primary nomination to Joe Sestak.
Specter died from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma on October 14, 2012, at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was 82 years old. He was survived by his wife, Joan Levy, sons Shanin and Stephen, and his four grandchildren, Silvi, Perri, Lilli and Hatti.
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