Michael Smerconish, Philadelphia's top talk-radio host, has been friends with Sen. Arlen Specter since working on his first reelection campaign in 1986—and, like Specter, has found himself growing distant from the Republican Party's platform.

Smerconish is currently on air but he took a quick break to shoot me an email about Specter's announcement today that he will switch to the Democratic Party for the 2010 election:

It's a sad day for the GOP. He is what they needed more, not less of. The base alone cannot get it done; the party needs a bigger tent. Specter's intellect and ethics will be missed. Even when I have disagreed with him I have respected him.

Smerconish's new book, "Morning Drive," pushes a "Suburban Manifesto" that moderates some of the Republican Party's position so that they will appeal to suburban voters in places like Philadelphia. Though Smerconish made waves last fall by announcing that he would vote for Barack Obama, he still considers himself a Republican and a conservative.