PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The following is a statement from former Pennsylvania Republican National Committeewoman Elsie Hillman.

“Today I lost a dear friend and our country lost a great leader in the passing of Senator Arlen Specter. Pennsylvania has been blessed with many great Senators and Governors, but few have had the impact on helping Pennsylvania as our longest serving Senator, Arlen Specter.

“I first met Arlen Specter in 1967 when he was a young District Attorney from Philadelphia and I was a new chairman of the Allegheny County Party. Arlen came to Pittsburgh to campaign for our mayoral candidate John Taber. I was immediately impressed by D.A. Specter’s leadership, intellect and commitment to public service.

“Although we were on opposite sides during Arlen’s earlier statewide campaigns, I was excited to be part of his winning campaign for U.S. Senate in 1980, and ever since, including his last campaign for reelection in 2010.

“Arlen representative the hopes and dreams for many of us who see public service as an honorable profession and believe that moderation and compromise are strengths and not weakness’. Although never compromising on his principles, Arlen was a leader who was strong enough and wise enough to reach across the political aisle and find common ground in order to advance the common good. This attribute of Arlen’s will be truly missed and is badly needed today.

“My home town of Pittsburgh would not be recognized as a renaissance city as it is today had it not been for Arlen Specter. During our city’s hardest economic times in the early ’80’s, Arlen worked hard to help the struggling steel industry, funding for job retraining, and providing support for those who needed it the most. Arlen was a vital partner in helping build many of our regional assets from the airport, to light rail, to our cultural and sports venues and our river parks.

“Of all the many things Arlen has done for our country and particularly our City, none can compare to his leadership in health and fight for more NIH research dollars. I am particularly grateful as a woman the work that Arlen Specter did to advance women’s health issues and to bring the funding of women’s health on par with that of men’s health.

“Pittsburgh has become the leader in health and education, but particularly health because of Arlen Specter. His support of Magee Women’s Research Institute, the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute, UPMC, West Penn Allegheny Health System, The McGowan Center for Regenerative Medicine, Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Institute among many others has not only lead to wonderful medical breakthroughs but has helped create thousands of jobs and a stronger economy in Pittsburgh.

“Arlen Specter was my political partner in arms and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Joan, two sons Shannin and Stephen, daughter-in-law Tracy and his four grandchildren.”

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