WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pennsylvania’s junior Sen. Bob Casey appeared to open the door Sunday for a possible challenger to Arlen Specter, the state’s senior senator and a newly-minted Democrat.
Casey seemed to part ways with his party’s leadership when asked by CNN’s John King whether Democratic Party leaders - including President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell - should be making public pledges of support to Specter in an apparent effort to dissuade any would-be primary challengers to the former Republican.
“I don’t think anyone in our party should ever dictate to a candidate,” Casey said on State of the Union. “That’s really up to that candidate, to run or not run,” Casey, a longtime Obama backer added.
Casey, who recently announced his own support for Specter, seemed to be acknowledging the possible candidacy of Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak.
While Sestak has yet to formally announce that he will challenge Specter for Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate nomination, the congressman has been critical of Specter in a number of interviews since Specter’s recent defection to the Democratic Party.
A week ago on State of the Union, Sestak questioned whether Specter was a Democrat yet. That criticism was shortly followed by Sestak suggesting that even if Specter won in 2010, he might not be a reliable member of the Democratic Party in 2016.
Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Torsella, who announced his intention to run before Specter’s party switch, has said he is staying in the race and will challenge Specter for the Democratic nod.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican who was considered a potentially formidable challenger to Specter in a general election match-up, recently announced that he will not run for election to the Senate in 2010.