It turns out that Arlen Specter already has a serious primary challenger: Joe Torsella (I can't seem to find a campaign website.) Torsella is CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, head of the Pennsylvania Education Board, and was also a Rhodes Scholar. He held a variety of civic and political positions in Philadelphia during the 1990's, and narrowly lost a 2004 primary for the U.S. House to Allyson Schwartz.
Torsella today vowed to stay in the campaign, even with Specter flipping:
I decided to run for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania for one simple reason: I believe we need new leadership, new ideas, and new approaches in Washington. It's become obvious that the old ways of doing business might have worked for the special interests, but they haven't worked for the rest of us.
Nothing about today's news regarding Senator Specter changes that, or my intention to run for the Democratic nomination to the Senate in 2010 - an election that is still a full year away.
This is a serious campaign. Torsella raised $596,513 during the first 51 days of his campaign, and has $586,798 on hand. While that is still a long way from the $6,735,915 that Specter has on hand, it is not to be taken lightly. Torsella has also hired a high-profile, experienced set of staff and consultants:
His campaign has hired The Campaign Group to handle media strategy. The company is run in part by Neil Oxman, a longtime Democratic political consultant who has worked extensively with Gov. Ed Rendell dating back to his days as Philadelphia Mayor, and more recently helped elect Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Finance Director Michelle Singer has held the same job under Rendell. Campaign coordinator Rebecca McNichols was Senator Bob Casey's political director during his successful election in 2006. Communications director Mark Nevins has worked for the presidential campaigns of U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Torsella has also been on the Colbert Report:
It is worth noting that Torsella's wife Carolyn Short actually worked for Specter as general consul for the Senate Judiciary committee, chaired by Specter, starting in 2005.
I am still struggling to find out where Torsella stands on any issues, but he already serves as a serious primary challenger to Arlen Specter.