Pennsylvania: Colleagues Help Fill Specter’s Coffers

Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:11pm

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) has received about $70,000 so far from his Democratic colleagues in the Senate since he announced he was switching parties in April, according to a source familiar with the donations.

Four high-ranking Democrats have ponied up $10,000 each for Specter’s re-election campaign: Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.).

Five more Democratic Senators each gave $5,000 to Specter: Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Ben Nelson (Neb.).

Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.) gave $4,000 to Specter’s campaign, while Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) each gave $2,000 to their new Democratic colleague.

This could all be much-needed cash for the new Democratic Senator since Specter promised refunds to any donors who gave to him as a Republican.

What’s more, Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) appears set to run against Specter in the primary. Former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), who originally entered the GOP primary against Specter, will likely face off against the Democratic nominee next year.

Mayor Reconsidering Race Against Dent

It appears Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan (D) might be interested in running against Rep. Charlie Dent (R) after all.

Despite earlier reports that he was not interested in the race, Callahan said Friday that he was “actively considering— a bid and reaching out to local officials for advice. Callahan has long been considered Democrats’ preferred recruit and the candidate with the best chance of ousting Dent in the swing district.

“I’ve asked and folks have said that they would be supportive,— Callahan said in a phone interview.

National Democrats have tried to recruit Callahan for the past few cycles, but he has turned them down. Callahan confirmed that he has met with several Democratic leaders about a bid in recent weeks, including Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. Allyson Schwartz, Patrick Murphy and Robert Brady. Vice President Joseph Biden has even pitched in to help land the recruit.

“I surprisingly got a phone call last week while on vacation from the vice president,— Callahan said. “That really was unexpected and quite flattering.—

Callahan said that his close colleague Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, another potential Democratic candidate, is not interested in running for the seat and would support his bid instead.

Democrats have been unable to find a top candidate to run against Dent since he was elected in 2004. Dent won re-election in 2008 with 59 percent of the vote, but President Barack Obama carried the district with 56 percent of the vote.

A spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee confirmed that it partnered with Callahan to pay for a poll to test his candidacy as well as other Democrats in the district.