GOP consultant Kent Gates, who managed Sen. Arlen Specter's 1998 reelection campaign, tells Campaign Insider he is "extremely disappointed" by Specter's decision to switch his party affiliation. 

"I think he put his own political needs ahead of the good of the party," says Gates, "and I'm extremely disappointed that he would do this."

In addition to serving as Specter's campaign manager, Gates served on Specter's senate staff for a period in the late 90's. 

In a statement announcing the party switch, Specter said that his political philosophy has drifted too far toward the Democratic Party for him to remain in the GOP... 

It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

Gates expects Pennsylvania Democrats to embrace Specter wholeheartedly now that the senator gives the national party a filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate. But the Republican rage has likely just begun.

Shane D'Aprile is senior editor at Politics magazine. sdaprile@politicsmagazine.com