You saw the headline today on PoliticsPA: state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-TK) is starting to look at the U.S. Senate seat held by Lehigh Valley Republican Pat Toomey.

Hughes would face a relatively big hurdle in the primary in Joe Sestak, the Iraq War vet who unsuccessfully challenged Toomey in 2010. But here are four reasons Hughes has a fighting chance at trumping Sestak in the primary, and becoming the next U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania:

  1. Growing unease among PA politicos about Joe Sestak — Sestak couldn’t pull off a win against Toomey in 2010 (he lost with 49 percent of the vote), and it’s rankled the party (and its donors) ever since. Voters in Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh largely sat the race out, leaving the door open for the conservative Toomey.
  2. Hughes has a strong base in Philadelphia, including African-Americans — a key constituency for anyone looking to win statewide. Here it’s just a math question: Philly (and its suburbs) are far bigger than the rest of the state. And Pennsylvania has already voted statewide for an African-American candidate during a presidential year– twice.
  3. Hughes is a member of state Senate leadership. That means he’ll be able to stump across the state and take advantage of a network he’s been building for years — bringing his friends in the Democratic caucus from all over the state on the campaign trail with him.
  4. Money. Hughes has proven to be a strong fundraiser as Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman — he’s been able to raise at least $2.5 million in the past three years. Donors like to back a winner, and a candidate for state office who’s brought in millions is music to their ears.

Chris Krewson is the executive director of LION Publishers, a national nonprofit association that serves local journalism entrepreneurs build sustainable news organizations, and the founding editor of...