The wages of Franken.

FiveThirtyEight has been hearing for some time that Matthews is serious about running for the United States Senate, but it took a trip to Georgia among the Georgia-runoff-congregated and well-connected Obama organizer throng to confirm.

According to multiple sources, who confirmed the Tip O’Neill staffer-cum-MSNBC host has negotiated with veteran Obama staffers to enlist in his campaign, Chris Matthews is likely to run for United States Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010. Matthews, 62, would run as a Democrat.

A Quinnipiac poll in August put him within five points of Specter, with 55 percent saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion yet. That sounds absurdly high for a guy who’s been yakking about politics every weeknight for the past 10 years, but relative to most other Democratic challengers, it’s probably absurdly low. As dispiriting as it is to see celebrities running for office now, they’re not a bad bet for a party trying to unseat an incumbent: They’re well funded, have prominent connections, and can make up the name-recognition gap more quickly than the average joe. The trick is getting voters to take them seriously, which is impossible if you’ve ever watched “Hardball” and perfectly possible if you’re among the vast majority who haven’t and know him only by his resume. Surely he has as much gravitas as a guy known chiefly for tedious bits on Weekend Update in the 1980s.

I can’t imagine the political climate will be worse for the GOP in two years, although that’s for the same reason I can’t imagine the economy will be much worse: It’s not based on reason so much as avoiding nausea at the very thought. Assuming that things are better, Specter should be okay. The Democrats’ generic advantage will have shrunk and conservatives will put their distaste for his RINOism aside lest they end up saddled with a senator from MSNBC. Exit question: Pennsylvania’s gain is Obama’s loss. Who’ll transparently shill for him at 5 p.m. every day now?