Arlen Specter


Major events in the timeline of Arlen Specter:

Feb. 12, 1930:

Born in Wichita, Kansas, to Harry and Lillian Specter. Raised in Russell, Kansas.

Named deputy sheriff of Sedgewick County, documented in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” as youngest deputy sheriff in United States hsitory.


Graduates University of Pennsylvania with degree in International Relations 

U.S. Air Force, serves as second lieutenant, Office of Special Investigations.


Marries Joan Lois Levy, with whom he has two sons, Shanin and Stephen.
1956: Graduates Yale Law School. 
1956-1959: Practices private law.
1959: Hired as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.

Serves on the Warren Commission, which concludes that a single bullet from a lone assassin killed President John F. Kennedy.

Runs successfully on Republican ticket for Philadelphia district attorney even though he was a Democrat.



Loses election for Philadelphia mayor.

Elected to second term as district attorney.

1973: Loses bid for third term as district attorney.
1976: Loses GOP Senate primary.

Loses GOP gubernatorial primary.


Wins Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat and joins new Republican majority in the chamber.
1986: Elected to second term in Senate.
1987: Helps defeat President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork.
1991: Aggressively questions Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination hearing.

Elected to third term in Senate.


Announces candidacy for president. Suspends campaign later that year amid fundraising difficulties.
1998: Elected to fourth term in Senate.

Ekes out win in Senate GOP primary, beating U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey by 17,146 votes, or 1.6 percentage points. Wins a fifth term in November.

Begins two-year term as chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee.
February 2009: Votes for Democrats’ economic stimulus package, inflaming GOP sentiment against him.
April 28, 2009: Announces he is changing party registration from Republican to Democrat.
May 18, 2010: Specter loses Senate Democratic Party primary.
Dec. 22, 2010: Specter takes last vote in Senate.
Jan. 3, 2011: Senate term officially ends.
Oct. 14, 2012
Senator Specter passes away  Remembering Arlen