The Northeast's dwindling cast of Senate Republicans has Democrats circling Arlen Specter's seat in Pennsylvania, convinced the party is well-positioned to make a competitive race out of the 2010 election.
Leading the pack of prospects -- at least in celebrity -- is Chris Matthews, the MSNBC "Hardball" host and a former Capitol Hill Democratic staffer. The Philadelphia native has been toying with a run for months, and this week he sat down with state Democrats to discuss the prospect of taking on the five-term GOP senator.
Others considered in the mix include Rep. Joe Sestak, who is sitting on $3 million in campaign funds; state Rep. Josh Shapiro; and U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, a two-term Philadelphia area lawmaker who has moved up quickly on the Hill and has a Rolodex full of prospective donors from her unsuccessful 2000 Senate run. "We'll see," she said about a repeat bid.
"There are a lot of compelling reasons why serious Democrats would aspire to run in 2010," said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney, who said Matthews had been in Pennsylvania Monday meeting with other Democratic leaders.