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After defeating the late Sen. Arlen Specter in a Democratic primary, Sestak ultimately lost to Sen. Patrick J. Toomey in 2010. He began raising money for a rematch with Toomey last spring, and had nearly $1 million in cash on hand for the race as of Sept. 30.
But Sestak could have company.
Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and Katie McGinty, a former adviser to Vice President Al Gore, are running for governor in 2014. Any of them who are unsuccessful could join the Democratic Senate primary in 2014.
Vulnerable Gov. Tom Corbett’s fate will also impact other moves in the delegation.
The Republican has record-low approval ratings, but no governor in modern history has lost re-election in Pennsylvania. If he wins a second and final term, an open-seat gubernatorial race in 2018 would create a downballot frenzy.
Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, would likely enter an open-seat gubernatorial contest in 2018, local operatives said. That would leave his Senate seat vacant.
“Bob Casey was born and bred to be governor,” one GOP operative said. “If he runs for governor, I foresee some serious bidders from the delegation” to run for Senate.
At least three House Republicans could run in an open-seat Senate race, including Meehan and Reps. Charlie Dent and Mike Kelly. Democratic operatives said a future open-seat Senate nominee would likely come from outside the current delegation.
“There are so few Democratic congressional districts in Pennsylvania that it’s not clear that future statewide candidates will be members of the delegation,” said Pennsylvania Democratic strategist J.J. Balaban.
Instead, Democratic operatives say the field of Senate candidates could include Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the first woman elected to the role in the state’s history.
In the House, an aging Keystone State delegation could prompt open-seat opportunities soon.
Democratic strategists say Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., currently in his 8th term, could retire in the next few cycles. Brady’s 1st District, which includes large swaths of urban Philadelphia, will likely draw a number of African-American candidates.
“Name a name who doesn’t run,” one Democratic strategist said of the field of contenders to replace Brady. “The ethnicity of the person will very much determine the field.”
Operatives also said Rep. Chaka Fattah is also on their retirement watch. The 10-term Democrat in the 2nd District represents a large chunk of Philadelphia, including the campuses of Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and parts of Temple University.
Democrats who could look to replace Fattah include:
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who is term-limited in 2015.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes
Philadelphia City Council Member Kenyatta Johnson
State Rep. Cherelle Parker
State Sen. Anthony Williams, who is currently running for mayor of Philadelphia.
Across the state in Pittsburgh, longtime Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle could also ditch the 14th District in the near future. The 10-term member and captain of the Democratic Congressional Baseball Team represents the heavily Democratic city and suburbs, and a long line of potential successors are waiting to hear his plans, including:
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who ran congressional campaigns before winning the mayoral election in 2013.
State Sen. Matt Smith, who lives in the neighboring 18th District but could run for Doyle’s seat.
Pittsburgh City Council Member Dan Gilman