Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, a conservative former congressman who nearly unseated Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 Republican primary, says he is considering another shot.

That is a reversal of sorts, as Toomey had said in late January that he was forgoing next year's Senate race to focus on a potential candidacy for governor.

But yesterday morning, during an appearance on the Bobby Gunther Walsh show on Allentown talk-radio station WAEB 790 AM, Toomey said a possible Senate campaign was "back on the table."

Specter's crucial support for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package and his silence on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize workplaces, have angered conservative Republicans.

Toomey, 47, who represented a Lehigh Valley congressional district from 1999 to 2005, came within 17,000 votes, out of more than a million cast, of beating Specter in the 2004 primary. Club for Growth is an antitax, limited-government advocacy group.

Late yesterday afternoon, Toomey said in a statement that he was considering taking on Specter. He would face a crowded gubernatorial primary field, and many Republicans have urged him to aim for the Senate.

"Unfortunately . . . more corporate bailouts, unprecedented spending and debt, higher taxes is likely to make things worse," Toomey said. "Pennsylvanians want a U.S. senator focused on real and sustainable job creation that gets our economy growing again."

Specter, 79, repeatedly has said he expects a primary challenge. He told The Inquirer last month: "The right wing is out for my scalp."

Contact staff writer Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or tfitzgerald@phillynews.com.