By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Among the major political stories for the people of Pennsylvania and beyond in 2012 was the passing of a once-powerful, former US senator.

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Arlen Specter was the longest-serving US senator in Pennsylvania history.  The former Philadelphia DA was elected to national office in 1980 and continued to hold the seat for 30 years, until his defeat in 2010.

Specter, who died in October at the age of 82, lost a battle to non-Hodgkins lymphoma (see news story).

Before he ever got to the US Senate, Specter’s national reputation was cemented as the man who postulated the single-bullet theory in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

That theory stands to this day.

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Specter, who was first registered as a Democrat but changed his registration to Republican in the 1960s, returned to the Democrats in 2009.

“That was the cause of my defeat in the primary,” he said in 2010.

He lost to US Rep. Joe Sestak, who lost the general election to Pat Toomey.

Specter’s funeral was attended by many who praised his tenacity, his independence, and his record of service — among them, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.

“He had more of a positive effect on the lives of Pennsylvanians than anyone in the history of the commonwealth with the possible exception of Ben Franklin,” Rendell said.

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