Former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has announced he will not run for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat. Here’s Ridge’s view of where he goes next:

“Public service has long played a significant role in my life. That service does not end here. There are causes to which I remain intensely committed, including my work on behalf of the disability community, our nation’s veterans, our national security and the GOP — the party I enthusiastically joined more than four decades ago.

“To those who believe that the Republican Party is facing challenges, they are right. To those who believe the Democratic Party is without its own difficulties, they are wrong. No one party has a monopoly on all of the answers. The more important view, in my mind, is that we remember, whether Republican or Democrat, we are foremost Americans. And as Americans, we have always overcome challenges when we put partisanship aside and solutions first.

“And so my desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace. My hope is to raise the level of civility in public debate and raise the bar on outcomes that serve our citizens fully, fairly and equally.

That certainly sounds like a guy who is done with electoral politics. Of course, only moderate Republicans talk like that – aside from Joe Lieberman, who got himself expelled from the Democratic Party as a result, you never hear Democrats talk about how no one party has a monopoly on good answers, etc.

Ridge might have been a good statewide candidate, but for reasons I explained on Tuesday, he would have been the wrong guy to run against Specter. Pat Toomey may still not have a walk to the nomination, but Ridge’s departure gives him a fairly clear frontrunner status and a chance to settle once and for all whether a conservative can still win statewide in Pennsylvania as was the case when Rick Santorum won in 1994 and 2000.