Tom Ridge will not be challenging Pat Toomey for the Republican Senate nomination in Pennsylvania in 2010. In a statement released today, the former governor and Homeland Security chief said
, "[a]fter careful consideration and many conversations with friends and family and the leadership of my party, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Senate."
I am enormously grateful for the confidence my party expressed in me, the encouragement and kindness of my fellow citizens in Pennsylvania and the valuable counsel I received from so many of my party colleagues. The 2010 race has significant implications for my party, and that required thoughtful reflection. All of the above made my decision a difficult and deeply personal conclusion to reach. However, this process also impressed upon me how fortunate I am to have so many friends who volunteered to support my journey if I chose to take it and continue to offer their support after I conveyed to them this morning how I believe I can best serve my commonwealth, my party and my country.
Ridge, a moderate of sorts, would drum Toomey if the primary were held today, according to one poll, and he's widely believed to be the Republicans' strongest potential candidate in the increasingly blue state.
That's mixed news for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). On the one hand, if he secures the Democratic nomination, he won't have to worry about defeating Ridge in the general election. And he'd likely be a very strong candidate against Toomey. But on the other hand, one of the key arguments for nominating Specter is his name recognition and strength in a general election. With Ridge out of the race, the risk to Democrats of a potential Joe Sestak candidacy are greatly diminished, and that may make Sestak yet more likely to run.