Salena Zito

Both men would be assets to their tickets and would put the spotlight on Pennsylvania -- making a tough choice for Pennsylvania voters who already will be under the battleground microscope.

The political-entertainment value alone would be spectacular: Ridge would carry Western Pennsylvania and likely the Northeast, which McCain needs to win, and he can help in the Southeast suburbs and exurbs; Rendell can do what Rendell does best -- rack up numbers in the 10 Southeast counties he won in 2002’s Democrat primary and general election.

“It is astounding to think that Rendell lost 57 out of 67 counties in 2002 but still won the election by 9 points,” Brabender says.

Rendell ran up numbers in the Democrats’ primary that year that were just staggering: 79 percent in Philadelphia County, 80 percent in the other Philly “collar” counties. The high-water mark was Montgomery County, at nearly 89 percent.

The Obama organization has more than an upper hand for the fall in the state: Because of Pennsylvania’s hard-fought primary, it already has unparalleled field-work experience in the state, while the state Republican Party is basically demoralized after losing one U.S. senator and four congressmen in the 2006 midterm election.

Yet Ridge is the one who can nail down Reagan Democrats, most recently known as “Hillocrats” in the Keystone State. If he can add independents and modern swing voters to his side, his influence could edge Rendell’s in the end.

Like most speculation, the likelihood of both being picked -- or the question of who can bring home the vote for his party -- is completely unpredictable.

Then again, who could have predicted that Pennsylvania would have had such a booming voice in this year’s Democrat primary?


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.