Arlen Specter, a former U.S. Senator who made headlines toward the end of his career by switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic side, passed away yesterday after a battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
He was 82.
The long-time Pennsylvania politician passed away at his home in Philadelphia, family members confirm. He was elected to the Senate in 1980 and served longer than anyone in state history.
"Arlen Specter was always a fighter," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent -- never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others."
Specter crossed party lines in 2009 when he voted for the President's stimulus plan and subsequently lost in the Democratic primary to then-U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak a year later.
He is survived by wife Joan, sons Shanin and Steve, and four granddaughters.