Chris Matthews won't make Senate run

'Hardball' host in negotiations to remain at MSNBC

NEW YORK -- After months of will-he or won't-he speculation, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews has opted not to run for Senate in his native Pennsylvania.

Matthews told his producers during a production meeting just before Wednesday afternoon's "Hardball" that he isn't running for the Senate. Matthews, his executive producer John Reiss and MSNBC president Phil Griffin declined to comment about the news late Wednesday.

Matthews had been considered a contender for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat occupied by moderate Republican Arlen Specter, who is up for re-election in 2010. Matthews steadfastly refused to discuss the speculation, but he had made overtures in Pennsylvania. Most recently, his brother told a Pennsylvania journalist that Matthews wouldn't run.

That clears the way for Matthews to remain at MSNBC, where he has hosted "Hardball" since the late 1990s. Although he's not the most popular personality at NBC and has been a lightning rod of criticism for some remarks about Hillary Rodham Clinton in early 2008, Matthews and his show got a big boost from the presidential election. "Hardball" saw its highest ratings ever in 2008.

He is said to be mulling a contract offer from MSNBC to remain; those negotiations are continuing. But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in mid-December, Griffin said he expected Matthews to remain.

"I've talked to Chris. I think he's going to be here for a long time," Griffin said. "I want him to be here for a long time." Griffin said that there would be "clarity" soon.