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Former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Philadelphia Tuesday turned attention from the 2009 Pennsylvania state election to the 2010 gubernatorial and senate races.

Gov. Edward Rendell is limited to two terms and cannot run for reelection, so his seat is wide open for candidates from both parties. On the Democratic side, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Tom Knox, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and State Auditor General Jack Wagner have all announced their candidacies for governor.

A Sept. 30 poll by Quinnipiac University showed no clear leader in the Democratic primary. Onorato led with 14 percent, followed by Hoeffel with 12 percent, Wagner with 11 percent, Doherty with 8 percent and Knox with 5 percent.

In Republican field, only two candidates are vying for the seat so far — State Attorney General Tom Corbett and U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.

The Quinnipiac poll shows Corbett leading by a wide margin of 42 percent to 13 percent.

“Corbett has a large lead and although it is certainly not insurmountable, Congressman Gerlach certainly has his work cut out for him,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a press release.

The poll also showed Corbett leading potential Democratic challengers Onorato and Wagner by margins of 19 and 15 percentage points, respectively.

But Abe Amoros, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said the Democrats have “a lot of momentum left over from the ‘08 election” and a “good voter-registration edge” — Pennsylvania’s Department of State shows 1.2 million more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

“Those numbers are very real, [but] I’m not sure we’ll see that large of a gap on Election Day,” said Michael Barley, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party. “We’re very hopeful that we’re going to win the governor’s seat.”

The race for Senate was complicated earlier this year when Sen. Arlen Specter switched his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat, in part because he believed he would lose a Republican primary next spring.

“It’s a matter of feeling comfortable on the same wavelength,” Specter said of his compatibility with the Democrats’ platform at a town hall in Houston Hall on Friday. “I voted more times with the Democrats than I did with the Republicans.”

Specter’s Democratic primary challengers are U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and State Rep. Bill Kortz.

The race between Specter and Sestak is “already heated” and the state’s Democratic Party is “taking a wait-and-see approach” to endorsements, Amoros said.

An Oct. 1 Quinnipiac poll shows Specter leading 44 percent to 25 percent over Sestak.

The Republican frontrunner is former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, but social activist Peg Luksik, businessman Larry Murphy and retired Federal Air Marshal Robert Townsend are also in the running.

“It looks like [Toomey] will be a good candidate with the right message at the right time,” Barley said. “We’re eager to put a representative in that [Senate] seat. We feel that it was our seat.”

The Quinnipiac poll found that Toomey has just a slight advantage over Specter for the general election matchup, polling at 43 percent to 42 percent.

Toomey could also face strong competition in the general election from Sestak — the same poll found that voters would support Toomey over Sestak 38 percent to 35 percent.

“2010 will be a watershed year in Pennsylvania’s political history,” said Dan Hirschhorn on his non-partisan news web site, “We will learn if the state’s recent ‘Blue’ shift to the left is sustainable — or if it’s reached its apex before snapping back.”

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