Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was thinking about former Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell following Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat last week, writes Politico.
Campbell, known for his trademark ponytail and Harley, switched from Democrat to Republican in 1995 after sparring with environmentalists over water rights affecting the Ute Indian tribe in southeastern Colorado. Campbell recalled those days: “The far left and the far right have one thing in common: They are totally intolerant.”
Reid, who used Campbell’s lesson to keep now-independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut close to his Dem roots and to benefit from Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords’ abandonment of the GOP in 2001, highlights the Campbell incident as a prelude to his new book, “The Good Fight,” writing, “One faction of our party drove a very good Democrat into the wilderness. How could we be so intolerant of differences to do something like that?”
Specter spoke with Campbell before deciding to switch parties, according to The Hill, but didn’t bring up the possibility of party defection, Campbell said last week.