One of Specter's Democratic rivals quits

Joe Torsella, the former head of the National Constitution Center, decides not to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania next year.

By Mike Madden
Published May 15, 2009 12:32AM (EDT)

One down, one to go.

Sen. Arlen Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat has already forced one of his Democratic rivals out of the race for his seat in Pennsylvania next year. Joe Torsella, the former CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, announced tonight he wouldn't continue. The decision is a blow to liberals, who are hoping Specter won't cruise to the nomination, given his sometimes conservative votes both before and after changing parties.

"Over time, it's become clear to me that the kind of campaign this would become is not the kind of campaign I -- or you -- signed up for," Torsella said in a statment. "It would probably become negative, personal, and all about Senator Specter's past, not our common future. And that doesn't do Pennsylvania any good."

Specter still could face competition for the Democratic nomination, though officials in Washington and in Harrisburg are trying to clear the field for him. Rep. Joe Sestak is still running, at least for now. But Torsella's decision should make it a lot easier for Specter to hold onto his job -- which was, after all, the reason he changed parties.

Watch Torsella's message to his supporters here:

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

MORE FROM Mike Madden

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room