Ridge says no -- Specter could retain powerless Senate seat

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    The GOP's best chance of taking back the senate seat vacated by Arlen Specter evaporated today with the announcement that Tom Ridge would not run in 2010.
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Arlen Specter should be celebrating like Frank the Tank.

It's doubtful he'll be streaking around a campus or anything, but he's got reason for celebration: Tom Ridge isn't running for the US Senate.

That means he could survive a challenge in the 2010 election and remain one of the most junior members of the Senate.

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Republicans won't be streaking either. Ridge was their best shot at taking the seat back.

Why isn't he interested?

He really didn't say. Ridge just said after conversations with friends and family he decided against it.

"After 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," he said in a statement. "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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It doesn't mean Specter will have an easy path to reelection. It could get easier. If he gets past the Democratic primary, he'll likely faced former Congressman Pat Toomey in the general.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Specter a 20 point favorite in that race.

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Here's Tom Ridge's full statement:

"After 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.

"Public service has long played a significant role in my life. That service does not end here. There are causes to which I remain intensely committed, including my work on behalf of the disability community, our nation's veterans, our national security and the GOP -- the party I enthusiastically joined more than four decades ago.

"To those who believe that the Republican Party is facing challenges; they are right. To those who believe the Democratic Party is without its own difficulties, they are wrong. No one party has a monopoly on all of the answers. The more important view, in my mind, is that we remember, whether Republican or Democrat, we are foremost Americans. And as Americans, we have always overcome challenges when we put partisanship aside and solutions first.

"And so my desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace. My hope is to raise the level of civility in public debate and raise the bar on outcomes that serve our citizens fully, fairly and equally. My belief is that those in my home state can best be served by the principles of limited government, less taxes, competent governance and shared responsibility. So I stand ready and excited to help my party and my country prevail as we continue to work to preserve and protect our strong, storied and much beloved nation."

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