Torsella Backs Specter in Pennsylvania

Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:48am

Former National Constitution Center President Joe Torsella (D), who ended his Senate campaign after Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter defected from the Republican Party and became a Democrat, endorsed Specter on Tuesday.

Torsella’s support is not surprising given that he and Specter have enjoyed a good relationship for years. Not only did Specter help secure federal funding for the National Constitution Center, but both Democrats have hired each other’s wives for jobs with the center and on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also, both men are allies of Gov. Ed Rendell (D), a former Philadelphia mayor.

“I have known and worked with Senator Specter for nearly two decades, first when I worked for Mayor Rendell and later at the Constitution Center,— Torsella said in a statement released by the Specter campaign.

Torsella was the only Democrat in the Senate race for several months earlier this year before Specter announced in late April that he was going to switch parties to run for re-election as a Democrat. Specter immediately had the backing of the national party following his announcement, although Torsella did not drop out of the race until almost three weeks later.

Torsella’s endorsement is important because Specter appears all but certain to face Rep. Joe Sestak in next year’s Democratic primary. Sestak has continued to ramp up his fundraising appeals as the end of the second quarter approaches, using his prospective Senate campaign to raise money in the waning hours before the Tuesday filing deadline.

Also in his statement, Torsella said he dropped out of the race because he thought a primary would weaken Democrats’ chances in the general election. In a not-so-veiled swipe at Sestak, Torsella also wrote that “now isn’t the time for the politics of personal ambition— in his statement.