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More signs of confidence from Sestak?

Here's another sign that Joe Sestak may really think he's on track to win this thing.

Last week the Sestak campaign went up with a brutally tough ad linking Arlen Specter to Sarah Palin and George Bush. The spot seems to have fueled Sestak's surge, enabling him to close the gap with Specter and perhaps even pass him.

But now the Sestak campaign is up with a new spot that again targets Specter, but is less overtly negative and is a straight contrast of their records:

The ad declares that the race is now a "dead heat," and goes on to compare their records on core Democratic issues like women's rights and the environment. It also trumpets Sestak's record on civil rights, perhaps in hopes of cutting into Specter's expected support among African Americans in Philadelphia.

Note that Specter's record is depicted on a red background, while Sestak's is on a blue background. Nudge, nudge -- get it? The spot also features Sestak claiming it's time for a "new generation of leadership," a none-too-subtle allusion to Specter's longevity in the Senate.

But the ad makes no mention of Bush or Specter's GOP past. It seems designed to drive home the message to Dems that now that it's gut check time, a straight comparison of their records should suffice to get voters to see who the real Democrat is in the race.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 13, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems  
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Excellent ad. Fine campaign. Though the candidate is weak personally, I think Sestak wins.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

As lms (I think) said on the previous thread, it would be nice to see Halter and Sestak bring some new ideas to the party in the Senate. Specter and Lincoln ought to be the cautionary tales for how little good centrist, corporate Dems have done for the party.

Next on the list: Mary Landrieu.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

From TPM:

"The new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania suggests that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) could be a stronger Democratic nominee than Sen. Arlen Specter in the general election against Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey. Both of them currently trail Toomey, but Sestak makes it a closer race with a higher number of undecideds.

Toomey leads Specter by a margin of 47%-40%, but only edges Sestak by 42%-40%. Last month, Toomey led Specter by 46%-41%, and led Sestak by 42%-34%. the survey of registered voters has a ±2.9% margin of error. Interestingly, yesterday's Quinnpiac poll of the Democratic primary found that likely Dem primary voters thought Specter was the stronger Democrat to win the general election, by a margin of 54%-29%."

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

You can't compare Specter and Lincoln. Spectra is an ex-Republican who switched to save his skin. And is running for re-election in a solidly blue state. Democrats should have a solid liberal democrat from PA.

Lincoln is a conservative democrat because she's in Arkansas (barely purple). Democrats are lucky to have a centrist from a state like that.

If you think the Dems can get to a healthy senate majority (53 to 56) by pushing out the purple state senator's you're laughin'

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | May 13, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse


Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu are a cancer on the Democratic Party. Addition by subtraction. Not to mention that Halter polls better in the general than Lincoln. Which will likely be true of the other Republicrats as well. Good riddance!

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Since both Lincoln and Specter are polling badly (or at least poorly) against the GOP candidate, I don't see the problem. Lincoln has shafted her base and Independents are not flocking to her. Halter has a solid record and has been polling much better against GOP competition.

Lincoln and Specter are the definitions of short-term electoral thinking. You can't get AR voters to prefer a Dem rep when said Dem rep is a near-Republican. This just confirms to them that "there's no difference."

There should be.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse


"If you think the Dems can get to a healthy senate majority (53 to 56) by pushing out the purple state senator's you're laughin[g]"

And if you think that Sen. Lincoln has above a 1% chance of being re-elected in the General this fall, then you're laughing.

Her numbers are destroyed, as she angered both sides of the debate in HCR. Oh, and she's an incumbant with corporate ties in an anti-incumbant, populist year. Blanche Lincoln will not be in the Senate next year, whether it's by Halter or a GOPer.

Halter is more conservative than most progressives would like (though less conservative than Lincoln), but many know that he at least has a slightly better chance in the fall.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@ChicagoIndy I agree with the basic thrust of your post but take issue with one definition..."healthy senate majority (53 to 56)" The ONLY healthy majority in today's political environment is 60+..unless they change the filibuster rules. The R's have completely given up negotiating in good faith or making any attempt at real governance.

@BGinChi I finally got to Amazon and ordered Karl Malantes "Matterhorn"
Thanks for the tip.

BTW While I was there I also order "War" by Sebastian Junger. I saw him interviewed on John Stewart's show a couple of nights back and it seems his book does for Afghanistan soldiers what Malantes does for Vietnam's warriors.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 13, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

ChicagoIndependant, aside from voting for Harry Reid, name 1 positive thing that Mary L has done for the democratic party. She weakened HCR, she is not on board with energy bill, EFCA, or immigration as far as I can tell. She just makes the dem caucus look stupid for not being able to get its own membership to reliably vote for the leadership on PROCEDURAL issues, never mind substantive ones. When obama campaigns for her it just reinforces bad behavior. How can dems get repubs to support legislation when the dems own caucus won't vote with them on procedural matters?

Posted by: srw3 | May 13, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

ruk, excellent on ordering the book. You are going to like it. Heart-wrenching but so worth the read.

And yeah, I saw Junger on JS. Gonna get that asap. That guy is a dogged reporter and a real mensch.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 13, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Re ChicagoIndy's discussion starting post...

I agree with the responses and especially srw3. I don't know how many times I've had to explain to folks why HCR kept getting held up. They kept throwing up..the Dems can't get anything done they have a commanding majority in the Senate...that was because tools like Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson appear to be in the Democratic Caucus when they aren't.

I have no problem with folks voting their conscience...(although in the case of these three tools it was their corporate sponsors well being that motivated their votes) but when they go so far off the reservation that they join R's in filibustering that is totally UNACCEPTABLE!!! Vote against what you don't believe in but don't filibuster YOUR OWN FREAKIN CAUCUS.

I totally agree with srw3 that having people who call themselves Dems but then join the R's in filibusters simply makes the Dems look incompetent to the general public!

I'd rather have fewer numbers of folks who at least won't filibuster caucus proposed legislation. Bye Bye Blanche, and hopefully we can get that "TOOL" Mary Landrieu knocked off the next time as well.
At a time when her state faces the worst crisis since Katrina she's giving a press conference praising big oil's safety record. This woman is despicable!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 13, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Spector shot himself in the foot with Sestak's apparent hard case personality giving him service record problems in a much embraced for service by the electorate 31 years in the navy rising to admiral. His nay vote on Kagan as a Democrat has come back to haunt him bigtime with the SCOTUS nomination. With the anti-incumbent feeling strong throughout the country Spector will lose this primary.

Posted by: jameschirico | May 13, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

All, the big picture re Specter and Lincoln is pretty striking when you think about it:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 13, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow, guess I stirred the pot a little...

First on the majority, I think the worst majority for the Democrats is 60 or 61, then you get to the situation at HCR where 1 or 2 dems (or Lieberman) get to hold the whole party hostage. By being at 53 to 56 the dems would need 4 to 7 Republicans which would allow the Repubs to get some cover and maaayybe vote with the dems. And if the dems are at 60 the story continues that even with a "super majority" the dems can't get anything done (or if they do get something done they're the most partisan congress ever).

I don't have an opinion on Mary L, but my main point was that the Dems can get a much more reliable Democratic senator in PA compared to AR. So they should primary a hack like Specter. Lincoln, while she screwed up on HCR has been reasonably democratic when you look at her state. Could Halter win - maybe, but odds are he'll probably vote pretty similar to Lincoln apart from the first year or so to satisfy his base.

Below is Nate Silver's review of how valuable a dem senator is.

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | May 13, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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