The campaign of Marco Rubio, the likely Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Florida, compares his Republican-turned-no-party candidate opponent Charlie Crist to Arlen Specter, who lost yesterday in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for U.S. Senate after leaving the Republican Party last April. Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos said:

Tonight, voters in Pennsylvania made a clear and unequivocal statement that the American people are tired of the crass political opportunism that puts saying and doing anything to win an election above all else. Whether they live in Pennsylvania or Florida, the American people are rejecting politicians like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist who stand for nothing but their own political self-interest.

There are differences too, of course, between Crist and Specter. Crist left the Republican Party after he was trailing in the primary, while Specter led or ran even for the majority of the race against Joe Sestak. As a practical matter, however, it would have been very difficult for Specter to run without a party in Pennsylvania. Specter acknowledged this to The Hill in March 2009. Independent candidates have to collect 2 percent of the signatures from registered voters — the vast majority of whom are Republicans or Democrats because of the state’s closed primaries — of the winner’s vote tally in the previous election, which in Specter’s case would be over 58,000. Crist, on the other hand, only needed to pay a fee of $6,960.

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