First thoughts: Tom Ridge may run for Specter’s seat

The WaPo reports this morning that Tom Ridge is considering making a run for Arlen Specter’s seat:

Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking.

Ridge is perhaps the state’s most decorated Republican, having held a House seat for more than a decade, spent eight years as governor and served as the first secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush. He was also mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in 2008.

If he ran, he would almost certainly face primary opposition from former congressman Pat Toomey, a conservative who came within two points of knocking off Specter in the 2004 Republican primary. Toomey has made it clear that he is in the race regardless of whether Ridge, who is considered to be a moderate, runs.

Polling suggests that Ridge would be more competitive than Toomey against Specter, who left the GOP last week, in a general election. In a new survey by Quinnipiac University, Specter leads Ridge by a narrow margin of 46 percent to 43 percent, while he holds a 20-point margin over Toomey.

“This is a statement of the obvious fact that Pat Toomey is not yet well known by statewide general-election voters,” Toomey communications director Nachama Soloveichik said about the Quinnipiac numbers. “Where he is well known, by general-election voters in the swing 15th District and by statewide Republicans, he is overwhelmingly popular.”

My political predictions are usually pretty bad, but maybe the one I’m about to make here will be on the mark: I predict that Toomey will beat Ridge by around 5 points in the primary, assuming Ridge does indeed run.

I’m interested in the thoughts of my fellow poljunkie readers on this potential match up – especially long-suffering PA conservatives who have had to endure Specter for years. Who do you think would make the better Senator – Toomey or Ridge, and do you believe that Ridge – as a moderate Republican – would still be better than having Specter in that seat?

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