For one brief week, it looked like Pennsylvania voters might actually have a choice in the next Senate election between two evenly matched candidates: the moderate Republican Tom Ridge and the moderate former Republican Arlen Specter. But Ridge announced yesterday that he wasn't interested in being a senator, so YAWN.
Why would Ridge not want to be a senator? Were six terms in the House and a cabinet position in the Bush administration just too much Washington for him? Senators enjoy all sorts of fancy perks, such as the secret subway that shuttles them between their offices and the Capitol so that they don't have to breathe the same air as filthy voters.
When they decide to not throw their hat into the ring, politicians generally cite a desire to "spend more time with their families," who nearly always despise them; the "family" talk is just a secret code for "I would prefer the public not know about the foul and possibly illegal acts I have committed in bed/in office/for money etc." Is this the case with Tom Ridge? Enh, who knows! His letter "explaining" his decision not to run of course explains nothing:
"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."
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So Ridge has concluded, deeply and personally, that he would prefer not to spend millions of dollars and untold hours in crappy cheese-steak joints across the state trying to persuade people to vote for him, the moderate pro-choice Republican former governor, rather than the other guy, the moderate pro-choice Republican-ish senator.
Pennsylvanians will likely see a match-up between Specter and his old foe Pat Toomey, who nearly beat him in the last primary and would probably have beat him in this one, too, if Specter hadn't pulled a Lieberman. Toomey is deeply beloved by a small but influential group of anti-tax wingnuts and despised by nearly everybody else. Thus: he'll probably be the Republican candidate who gets to lose to Specter in a year and a half, and Specter can go back to chairing his dumb Judiciary subcommittee that Dick Durbin very graciously gave up.