by Todd Beeton, Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:55:27 PM EDT
The Democratic power structure has apparently promised their full-throated support for Arlen Specter in next year's Democratic Senate primary -- "in money and in message" -- and no doubt intends to do everything it can to clear the field for our Johnny come lately. Ed Rendell made that perfectly clear in an interview last month.
Via Greg Sargent:
Asked if Specter could win a Dem primary, Rendell said: "He'd be unopposed. The Democrats in the Senate would welcome him. We in Pennsylvania would welcome him. He'd be basically unopposed for the Democratic nomination."
God forbid actual Democrats get to choose for themselves who will be their nominee. What's that called again? Oh yeah, democracy. Specter said he switched parties because he saw he had no chance of winning a Republican primary. Clearly, he has no intention of having to compete in a Democratic one either. How convenient.
So now we get to watch the depressing spectacle of the big guns trying to push Joe Sestak and Allyson Schwartz away from a run against Specter. Will they be successful? Who knows, but it doesn't really matter. Either way, Specter will not have the field to himself.
It turns out that Arlen Specter already has a serious primary challenger: Joe Torsella (I can't seem to find a campaign website.) Torsella is CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, head of the Pennsylvania Education Board, and was also a Rhodes Scholar. He held a variety of civic and political positions in Philadelphia during the 1990's, and narrowly lost a 2004 primary for the U.S. House to Allyson Schwartz. [...]
This is a serious campaign. Torsella raised $596,513 during the first 51 days of his campaign, and has $586,798 on hand. While that is still a long way from the $6,735,915 that Specter has on hand, it is not to be taken lightly. Torsella has also hired a high-profile, experienced set of staff and consultants...
Today, Torsella reiterated his intention to run for the Democratic primary. I'll be interested to hear more about Torsella's views but no doubt if he remains the only Democrat to challenge Specter, he is going to find a lot of support online and on the ground in Pennsylvania. His life sure just got a whole lot more interesting.
Update [2009-4-28 17:20:34 by Todd Beeton]:From Ben Smith, until today Torsella was "Rendell's favored candidate."
One man in an interesting spot today is Neil Oxman, Ed Rendell's political advisor and media consultant who is working for the man who was, until today, Rendell's favored candidate for Senate, Joe Torsella.
Torsella, now, is defying his old boss and staying in, and Oxman said in a brief interview that he thinks his client can beat Specter in the Democratic primary, if he decides to stay in the race, despite the power governor's decision to back Specter.
"Ed Rendell will be for Specter and will be at the press conference with the president tomorrow, but I don't think it's relevant," Oxman said. "In these kinds of races poeple make up their minds not because some government leader tells them to."