The 2010 Senate race in Pennsylvania for the seat currently held by that piece of puffery Arlen Specter continues to provide interest and speculation. See Puff the Magic Dragon for my previous essay on the state of the race.
First there was the "will he, won't he" chatter of Chris Matthews, dangling the possibility of a move back to Philly to enter the race on the Democratic ticket. Luckily for us, he decided to stay on Hardball, where we can just change to channel to avoid his jiber-jabber.
On the Republican side, Specter's biggest opponent was thought to be Pat Toomey. However, the Pennsylvania Ave blog of the Allentown Morning Call reports the latest, Toomey bags Senate run, takes steps in possible guv bid:
Former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey has decided against a repeat run for Senate in 2010, turning instead toward a possible bid for governor as he reaches out to Republicans statewide to assess his potential candidacy next year.
Toomey, president of the anti-tax group The Club for Growth, is scheduled to sit down with several influential and deep-pocketed Lehigh Valley Republicans in early February to “discuss his thinking of a possible gubernatorial run,” according to an e-mail invitation sent out Friday on behalf of Arcadia Properties founder Richard Thulin.
He has also put calls out statewide to supporters this week with the aim of raising money to do some preliminary polling.
At the same time, Toomey has dropped consideration of a repeat run for Senate in 2010.
In a statement, Toomey said he has had “several preliminary conversations with supporters of mine regarding a possible run for governor in 2010.”
“Given the state of Pennsylvania’s economy and the disastrous state budget deficits we face, there certainly is a need for major changes in Harrisburg,” Toomey said. “It is still very early in my exploration of a possible run but it is something I will consider.”
As The Politico notes, Toomey not taking on Specter:
This is welcome news for Specter, who is already facing the prospect of a tough re-election and didn't want to have to grovel to the GOP's conservative base to win the nomination. Specter still could face a primary challenger, but Toomey would have been the most credible opponent (he won 49 percent against Specter in 2004).With the way this race is going, I wouldn't be surprised if the next name mentioned is Rick Santorum. He's definitely an ideological soulmate to Toomey, who can easily capture the diminished Republican vote in Pennsylvania during the primary, which is heavily tilted conservative, since the moderates abandoned the party in recent years.
Santorum has spent the last several years amassing hugh amounts of money since he was defeated during his last Senate run, Frick & Frack, but he has kept his name around in Pennsylvania, sullying the op-ed pages of the Inky. Wouldn't surprise me if the two former political friends engaged in a face-off.