Arlen Specter dead at age 82 after 30 year career in Senate


Former US Sen. Arlen Specter (pictured in 2010) was hospitalized while battling cancer on August 28, 2012.


Alex Wong

Arlen Specter, a 30-year veteran US Senator from Pennsylvania noted for his move across the aisle, died on Sunday after battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, his family announced.

He was 82.

Sometimes called a Republican Party moderate, Specter first said in 2005 that doctors had diagnosed him with Hodgkin’s disease, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In August, Specter said the disease had returned and he was hospitalized to undergo chemotherapy.

He had also survived a brain tumor, cardiac arrest and heart bypass surgery, The Associated Press reported.

More from GlobalPost: Arlen Specter, former Senator, battling cancer

His political career began at Philadelphia city hall, continued on the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination, and ended with an unprecedented run in the Senate.

Specter is Pennsylvania’s longest-serving Senator, a run that began in 1981 and continued for 30 years, CBS Philadelphia reported.

Specter backed the “single bullet theory” in the Kennedy investigation.

He also found himself amid the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas scandal, helped defeat Bill Clinton’s health-care plan, pushed for greater health research (including stem cells) and helped pass President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill.

In 2009, he switched to the Democratic Party.

“A very, very difficult decision as to whether to support the vote for a stimulus,” Specter told CBS before his death, “being the critical vote on getting it passed — which ended up costing me my seat in the United States Senate.”

The family invited the public to his funeral on Tuesday in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania.

Specter is survived by wife Joan, sons Shanin and Steve and four granddaughters, The Associated Press said.

More from GlobalPost: Arlen Specter denies Rick Santorum endorsement claim made in GOP debate