Chris Matthews will attend an exclusive dinner in Manhattan this weekend – an event that will allow him to schmooze with Pennsylvania's establishment as he explores a challenge to the 28-year Senate reign of Republican Arlen Specter.
Matthews, the combative host of MSNBC's "Hardball," has taken a series of steps in recent weeks to signal that he is seriously considering a bid to take on Specter in 2010, including reportedly shopping for home in the Philadelphia area. To be a viable candidate, Matthews will need support from operatives and big fundraisers, two constituencies that will be well represented in this weekend's events hosted by the Pennsylvania Society.
On Saturday, Matthews and his wife plan to drop by the posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel to attend the annual dinner of the Pennsylvania Society, an organization that was founded more than 100 years ago that honors the achievements of Pennsylvanians. The dinner is the culmination of a series of weekend events, which often include fundraisers and receptions with political big shots in the state.
Carol Fitzgerald, executive director of the group, said "it’s not unusual for Chris to come," saying he has attended the annual dinners in the past, including in 2005 when the group awarded him a gold medal for being an "outstanding" Pennsylvanian. Specter was awarded the gold medal in 2007. She said politicians and candidates are discouraged from holding fundraisers over the weekend, but she acknowledged that they still occur.
While Matthews has remained mum about his motives, some have viewed his moves as a deliberate negotiating tactic to force NBC to sign him to a lucrative deal after his current contract expires next June.
An MSNBC spokesman could not be reached for comment.