2009-05-07 / Local & State

Specter Says He'll Return Donors' Money, If Asked

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Campaign supporters disappointed by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to switch parties can have their donations refunded if they choose, the senator said Friday.

Specter, making his first appearance in the state since becoming a Democrat earlier this week, said he was unaware if anyone had asked for refunds. But he noted he has "already had the checks cut'' to return contributions Senate colleagues made to his political action committee.

Specter said he would not ask fellow senators to return donations that his committee made to their campaigns.

"They fit in my tent. I just don't fit in theirs,'' he said.

His comments came during a news conference at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, shortly after a passer-by shouted, "I want my money back!''

The senator has been a Republican since 1965. His moderate views have often put him at odds with the party and he said polling data indicated "bleak'' prospects for re-election in 2010 if he remained with the GOP.

Specter said he has plenty of opportunities to work in the private sector but wants to see through Senate legislation regarding health care reform, climate change and medical research.

Specter is expected to face Philadelphia-area civic leader Joe Torsella in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., has also expressed interest in challenging Specter but a spokesman said Friday he has not yet made a decision.

Pat Toomey, a former congressman who almost defeated Specter in the 2004 GOP primary, is running for the Republican nomination.

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