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

Matthews told his producers during a meeting just before Wednesday’s "Hardball" that he isn’t seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat occupied by moderate Republican Arlen Specter, who is up for re-election in 2010.

He is now said to be mulling a contract renewal offer from MSNBC. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in mid-December, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said he expected Matthews to stay at the news cable channel "for a long time."

Matthews, Griffin and "Hardball" executive producer John Reiss declined to comment Wednesday.

Matthews has hosted "Hardball" since the late 1990s. Although he’s not the most popular personality at NBC and was a lightning rod of criticism for some remarks about Hillary Rodham Clinton in early 2008, "Hardball" saw its highest ratings ever last year.

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