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Dent Backs Toomey in Pennsylvania Senate Race

Rep. Charlie Dent on Thursday became the first Pennsylvania GOP Member to endorse former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for Senate in 2010.

Republicans in the Pennsylvania delegation had stayed on the sidelines of the primary between Toomey and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), until the latter announced two weeks ago that he would run for re-election as a Democrat. Dent’s endorsement comes after leading Senate Republicans have indicated they do not believe Toomey is too conservative to be viable in the general election, and his backing is significant because he is a well-respected moderate.

Dent’s move also comes while at least one of his House colleagues is still thinking about running for Senate.

But Dent occupies Toomey’s former House seat and the two have a long history together in local politics. In a statement from his campaign, Dent said he has known Toomey for many years and helped him with his first election to local office in Allentown, Pa.

“Now I look forward to helping Pat with his effort to win election to the Senate in 2010,— Dent said.

Meanwhile, several other Republicans are still considering entering the Senate race, including Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and former U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan — both of whom are also currently exploring bids for governor in 2010.

At least one other Member of the Pennsylvania delegation said Thursday he was going to wait to see if any other candidates are going to run for the Republican nomination before he would make an endorsement. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said that he was waiting to see what Gerlach does before making an endorsement.

“It’s awfully early in the process,— Shuster said. “I know Jim Gerlach is still actively considering it. I’ve known Jim Gerlach for 25 years, a great individual. And Pat Toomey is going to make a great candidate for the Senate also if he decides to run.—

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