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Hoeffel to enter Senate race

Saturday, June 21, 2003

By Lara Jakes Jordan, The Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Joseph Hoeffel has decided to run for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania in a 2004 race that could pit the three-term Democrat against the winner of a bruising Republican primary for the seat now held by GOP incumbent Arlen Specter.

Hoeffel's spokesman, Frank X. Custer, on Friday said Hoeffel "believes he's going to run."

Specter, R-Pa., a moderate who has held the seat since 1981, will face conservative U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in the April 27 primary -- a contest that Democrats hope will suck money and energy from the victor.

Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas said the senator "always expected to have a general election opponent, and whoever the Democratic nominee is, we'll deal with them in the general."

Toomey campaign manager Morrie Pulley said he'd "welcome" Hoeffel to the race, but "until he makes a formal announcement, we're going to reserve comment."

Widely unknown outside Philadelphia and suburban Montgomery County, where he lives, Hoeffel, 52, narrowly won re-election to his House seat last year against a Republican political neophyte. He prevailed with 51 percent of the vote in a district closely divided by Republicans and Democrats.

Hoeffel touts a solidly liberal voting record for his first four years in the U.S. House, and he has grown increasingly dovish on foreign policy since the war in Iraq.

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