Pennsylvania's now-junior Democratic Senator Bob Casey said on Friday that he will support Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary race in 2010 regardless of who else enters the field.
Asked during an interview with talk radio host Bill Press whether he will "support [Specter] no matter who runs against him," Casey, who was elected in 2006, replied "yes."
"I'll support him," he said. "It doesn't mean he doesn't have some work to do to go around the state and to listen to people in our party and go through a process. But I think in the end, it is my goal and it has to be my goal to make, which is to make sure we have two democrats in the senate in 2011, it is important that we support him I believe."
The endorsement falls in line with earlier reports that, as a condition for Specter's defection to the Democratic Party, national and state officials had worked to ensure that the path would be clear for him to secure the 2010 party nomination. With that said, the most likely Democratic challenger to Specter in Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak, has refused to rule out opposing the long-time Republican.
"Pennsylvanians need to make this decision and not have it decided by Washington, D.C., Democratic Party establishment and I feel very strongly about that," said Sestak.
Privately, progressives and labor officials are urging Sestak to keep flirting with the possibility of a primary challenge, if not run altogether. The logic being that he will influence Specter on key pieces of legislation, including the Employee Free Choice Act.