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Specter Now Faces Primary Challenger

(CBS)
Sen. Arlen Specter will likely face at least one challenger in the 2010 Democratic primary for his Pennsylvania Senate seat, though a poll shows the former Republican could solidly beat his potential Democratic opponent.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) confirmed on CNN on Wednesday night that he intends to enter the race, so long as his family approves.

"I personally have made a decision that I intend to get in this race with one other item," Sestak said. "I haven't … had the time to sit down with my eight-year-old daughter or my wife to make sure that we are all ready to get in."

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed registered Democrats in the state prefer Specter over Sestak, 50 to 21 percent. The poll was conducted May 20 - 26.

The poll also showed Specter would beat his Republican opponent, former Rep. Pat Toomey, 46 percent to 37 percent. While Specter still holds a nine-point lead over Toomey, a Quinnipiac poll from early May gave Specter a 20-point lead.

When Specter announced his move to the Democratic party on April 28, he acknowledged that his chances for re-election were stronger with the Democrats. President Obama and other Democratic leaders embraced Specter and have pledged to support him in the 2010 primaries. One other Democrat, Joe Torsella, intended to run for the Senate seat when Specter announced his party switch, but Torsella subsequently dropped out of the race.

Since joining the Democratic party, Specter has shifted his positions on some key issues slightly to the left. He has indicated, for instance, that he is open to supporting a government-sponsored health plan in a health care reform package.