Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Insider/February 2005 - Next Gov Will Name Arlen Spector's replacement

The Insider/February 2005: "Specter Shocker
The state's senior senator is diagnosed with a serious disease just as he assumes chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee
Ten months ago, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter sent political tremors across the state when he barely won re-nomination to a fifth term as U.S. senator against a stubborn challenge from conservative Congressman Pat Toomey.

Then, in November, Specter hit the Richter Scale again with post-election comments about anti-abortion judges that nearly cost him the chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee which he was entitled to by the tradition of seniority.

Specter had to do a lot of back-pedaling and finally after pledging to give all of President Bush’s judicial nominees a quick, impartial and open hearing he was back on track and became chairman with the new session, despite the media storm.
Now, Specter has a new and yet familiar opponent, cancer. On Feb. 16, his office announced that he has been diagnosed with the most advanced stage of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of the cancer but one that is curable.

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

“I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents; and I am going to beat this too,” Specter said in a written statement.

Still, the Specter-inspired news once again sent shock waves through the state’s political system and unleashed a torrent of support for the 75-year-old senator in battling his latest demon.

Specter expressed confidence that he will be able to carry out his duties as both a U.S. senator and as chairman and yet receive the necessary treatments to combat the disease, which affects the lymph system, part of the body’s immune system.

Specter’s regiment is expected to be an aggressive form of chemotherapy with sessions every two weeks over a 24 to 32-week period in Philadelphia. Experts say that Hodgkin’s is very responsive to chemotherapy.

Specter’s symptoms included fevers, fatigue and “enlarged lymph nodes” under his left arm and above his right clavicle. He was tested Feb. 14 at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia after a weekend of some discomfort. Subsequent tests determined the late stage of the cancer. Specter had bone marrow tests that showed the cancer had not spread there.

Dr. John Glick, Specter’s oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, said this form of the disease has a 70 percent survival rate over five years. But he said Specter was in unusual physical shape for a 75-year-old man, given his daily regiment of playing squash each day.

Pittsburgh Penguins Superstar and owner Mario Lemieux was 27 when he was struck with an earlier stage of the disease. He was able to be cured with a series of radiation treatments. The disease tends to strike younger and older people, while being rare in those of middle age. Most patients are able to continue working through their treatment regiment, although they may need more rest.

Having just been re-elected to a new term, Specter does not have to come before voters again until 2010 when he will be 80 years old. Some would consider that too old for re-election but Specter has held out the late Strom Thurmond. R-S.C., as his model and Thurmond was still serving in the upper chamber when he was 100 years old.

Should Specter decide to resign – something observers say is highly unlikely – appointment power for the remainder of his term would rest with Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who has an affinity for Specter since he began his government and political career as an assistant district attorney when Specter was Philadelphia’s DA. "


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