PHILADELPHIA — The longest serving senator in Pennsylvania history, Arlen Specter lost his battle with cancer.
Senator Arlen Specter, 82, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia.
Specter served Pennsylvania in the senate longer than anyone else, from 1981 to 2011, and his influence can still be seen even after his death.
He is said to have shaped more of the United States Supreme Court than any other member of congress.
According to his biography from the University of Pennsylvania law school, where Specter taught after losing re-election, he participated in the confirmation hearings of 14 Supreme Court nominees.
He was a liberal Republican who switched to the Democratic party in 2009 after he said the G.O.P. was becoming too conservative.
Specter was also one of the most prominent Jewish-American politicians.
He had been in the public eye since serving as a lawyer for the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In 2005, Specter had his first bout with cancer, when he had just won chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Then in 2008, the disease came back, but he vowed to stay in politics for as long as he could.
“If I run in 2010 and win, and go again in 2016 win and go again in the year 2022 and I’m up for re-election in the year 2028, at that point I’ll be younger than Strom Thurmond was when he was still serving in the United States Senate,” Specter said at the time.
Those who worked with Specter remember him as an advocate for Pennsylvania and said his loss is a big one.
“If it weren’t for Arlen Specter, Tobyhanna was always at risk of closing and he was a great defender of Tobyhanna. The other thing is he shepherded the flood project money and made sure that the river got fixed down around Albright Avenue and all around the Plot,” said former Scranton Mayor Jim Connors.
“He had that power for a couple of reasons. Thirty years as a U.S. Senator, he’s the longest serving senator in PA history. He was a man of great influence. He would not back down from a challenge,” said Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.
The senator’s funeral will be held on Tuesday near Philadelphia and is open to the public.