Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has been thinking about running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Arlen Specter. Now, with Specter leaving the Republican Party to join the Dems, Lamb suddenly faces the prospect of challenging an incumbent in the Democratic primary.
I did this Q&A with Lamb around 12:45 Tuesday afternoon, not long after the Specter story broke. (I'm posting this via BlackBerry for now, to get it online. I'll clean up the formatting when I have PowerBook wifi access.)
Q: Your first reaction on hearing Arlen Specter's intention to become a Democrat?
A: "Well, you know, it's something that has been speculated about for such a long time that it's not a shock. The timing of it is interesting, with it coming right now. But, you know, I think it's an interesting move on his part and it will be interesting to see how the people of Pennsylvania react to it."
Q: Well, it's been reported that you were thinking about running for the U.S. Senate. As a Democrat, does this change your plans?
A: " Well, like I said, I have been in the very preliminary stages of considering this race and this will one of the issues that I look at as I make my decision. It doesn't -- it hasn't made my decision for me yet, but I will still continue to look at this race and determine whether or not something is really viable for me to do."
Q: Do you welcome him becoming a Democrat? Should your fellow Democrats welcome Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat?
A: "I welcome everybody becoming a Democrat. I believe very significantly and strongly in the Democratic Party and I'm glad to have as many members in the Democratic Party as we can have. I think our party has been the big tent party in the United States for a long time and having Senator Specter in there, I think, further affirms that position."
Q: But even though you welcome him as a Democrat that doesn't mean you might not be a competitor for the Democratic nomination to the Senate?
A: "I still think that working families here in Western Pennsylvania need a voice in Washington. And, you know, it's going to take some time to see whether Senator Specter's going to provide that voice for working families here in western Pennsylvania. I've always believed that a western Pennsylvania Democrat was a strong candidate in a statewide race and I continue to believe that."
Q: When will you decide if you're going to run?
A: " I'll probably make the decision in the very near term. I mean, as you know, it's a very big proposition. There' a lot that goes into that effort, including the fundraising and other things. So it will be in the very near term."
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