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Pennsylvania: Gerlach Mulling Senate or Gubernatorial Bid

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) is leaving the door open to running for Senate in 2010 in light of Sen. Arlen Specter’s party switch, but his lead consultant said in an interview Wednesday that Gerlach is also still seriously considering a gubernatorial bid.

Specter announced Tuesday he is switching parties and will run as a Democrat next year in order to avoid a primary battle with former GOP Rep. Pat Toomey. Public polls have shown, however, that Toomey would have a tough time winning the general election, leading Keystone State Republicans to urge Gerlach to consider running for the Senate nod.

Gerlach is expected to make a decision about running for governor by June, but his lead consultant, Mark Campbell, said he will “continue to explore statewide options in 2010.—

“Congressman Gerlach’s phone has been ringing off the hook since Sen. Specter’s announcement and we are beginning to look at and engage that opportunity also,— Campbell said. “That having been said, we are quite certain that we could win the Republican primary for governor or U.S. Senate and are really gauging where the Congressman feels he can do the greatest good on behalf of taxpayers, families and seniors.—

But whoever is the Republican Senate nominee will have an uphill battle in Pennsylvania, which has increasingly voted for Democrats in recent cycles.

Party leaders are supporting Specter, but former National Constitution Center CEO Joe Torsella (D) is still running in the primary and Rep. Joe Sestak (D) has not ruled out a Senate bid either.

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