Top Recruit Poised to Enter Race for Sestak Seat

Posted August 7, 2009 at 3:24pm

Updated: Aug. 7, 6:28 p.m.

Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan (R), who was running for governor of Pennsylvania in 2010, has begun making calls and telling supporters that he will run for the open 7th district seat instead, according to a GOP source in the Keystone State.

Meehan’s campaign released a statement Friday afternoon announcing his departure from the gubernatorial race.

“Pat is more committed than ever to helping return Pennsylvania to a path of prosperity, and he is now seriously considering a run for congress in the Seventh Congressional District to fulfill that commitment,’’ his spokeswoman said in a statement.

Meehan’s move dramatically boosts Republican prospects for picking up the swing district seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who is running for Senate.

Meehan is a former U.S. attorney who served as the federal prosecutor responsible for the city of Philadelphia and eight surrounding counties. He held the position from September 2001 until July 2008.

But Meehan may face a contested primary. Businessman Steven Welch (R) is already in the race, and he has personal wealth that he could use to self-fund his campaign.

The suburban Philadelphia 7th district includes most of Delaware County and portions of Chester and Montgomery counties. Sestak first won the seat in 2006, when he ousted longtime Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). The district, like the overall southeastern region of the state, has been trending more Democratic. President Barack Obama won the district with 56 percent of the vote in 2008, compared to the 43 percent that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) garnered.