I regret having morbid thoughts, but this seems rather relevant. Sen. Arlen Specter is 79 years old, and has survived cancer. He will be 80 years old on primary day 2010; 81 years old in early 2011 if he is reelected.
The most recent figures indicate that the average life expectancy for an American male is 75.65 years.
Whatever his party affiliation, I hope Arlen Specter lives to be a hundred. But there is a reasonable possibility he will depart this earth before 2016, which would be the last year of the next six-year term that he seeks. Thus, the upcoming Pennsylvania gubernatorial election would have even higher stakes, as the winner of that race would be in position to appoint anyone who would fill a vacancy.