Matthews Moving Closer to Senate Bid

Posted December 3, 2008 at 4:04pm

Television host Chris Matthews continues to lay the groundwork in preparation for a Pennsylvania Senate bid, meeting with top Democratic fundraisers as well as statewide officials and making an unofficial agreement with a prominent Philadelphia media consultant.

Matthews met Monday with incoming Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord (D) and Democratic attorneys Alan Kessler and Mark Alderman at the Philadelphia-based law firm Wolf Block to discuss a possible bid. McCord, a former businessman, Kessler and Alderman have strong ties to the Democratic fundraising base in southeastern Pennsylvania — an integral part of a Matthews bid if he challenges Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in 2010.

According to sources with knowledge of the meeting, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” discussed a possible bid against Specter. While Matthews appears to be serious about running, sources stressed that Matthews does not seem to have made a final decision yet and that he is merely laying the groundwork in case he decides to go for it.

Most important for Matthews would be financing a race against Specter, who reported having almost $5.4 million in his campaign account earlier this year. Unlike some of the state’s House Members who might be considering a Specter challenge, Matthews would start the race with a zero balance in his campaign account aside from any of his personal financial resources.

Roll Call has also learned that Matthews has an informal agreement with Philadelphia-based Democratic media consultant Neil Oxman to work for his campaign, should he decide to run in 2010. Known for his work on Gov. Ed Rendell’s (D) two successful statewide campaigns as well as his recent win for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Oxman is one of the most prominent Democratic consultants in the Keystone State.

When asked about a potential Matthews bid in October, Oxman refused to comment, saying it was “none of your business.” A request for comment from Oxman’s office Wednesday morning was not returned.

Matthews is from southeastern Pennsylvania and his brother is a Republican elected official in Montgomery County, a suburb of Philadelphia. A former top Democratic aide on Capitol Hill, Matthews has been having conversations with state party officials both publicly and privately over the past few months to gauge a potential bid.

His contract with MSNBC reportedly ends in June. NBC spokeswoman Alana Russo declined to comment on behalf of Matthews and MSNBC.

Other potential Democratic Senate candidates include Reps. Allyson Schwartz and Joe Sestak as well as state House Deputy Speaker Josh Shapiro.