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PoliticsPA: Toomey calls Sestak ‘hyper-sensitive’ over ad complaint

3:28 PM ET, 07/15/2010

By Alex Roarty

Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey on Monday called Democratic opponent Joe Sestak “hyper-sensitive” for demanding a third-party ad criticizing his liberal voting record be removed from the state’s TV airwaves for making false statements.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced earlier this week it would begin running ads critical of Sestak’s positions on health care reform and so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation that also said he voted with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a 100 percent of the time. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday that two local TV stations had agreed to take down the ads, saying that the Democratic candidate had not always voted with Pelosi. None of the other 14 stations to receive the letter have reported taking the ad down.

Sestak pointed to a vote he made against Pelosi’s wishes on an amendment to the DISCLOSE act, which would regulate campaign financing, as evidence he hasn’t always voted with the speaker. The campaign also argued that calling the health care bill a “government takeover” of health care and saying that “cap-and-trade” legislation was a “job killer” was misleading.

But Toomey, who had no involvement with the Chamber’s ad, said Sestak is trying to run from his voting record.

“It’s not misleading,” he said during an afternoon conference call with reporters. “The only thing that would be misleading and subjective is to suggest there’s any substantive difference between Joe Sestak and Nancy Pelosi.”

Based on roll call votes, Sestak did vote 100 percent of the time with Pelosi during the first 18 months of this session’s Congress, Toomey said.

Sestak was also, in fact, a major advocate for the Democratic Party’s health care reform bill and a proponent of “cap-and-trade” legislation, voting in favor of both pieces of legislation. During his primary battle against former Republican U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, he routinely called himself the only “true Democrat” in the race.

The Sestak campaign returned fire of its own in response to Toomey’s criticism, saying the Republican is trying to distract voters from his own record on Wall Street.

“Congressman Toomey’s frantic efforts to defend these lies are a desperate attempt to distract voters from his own record on the issues,” said Sestak campaign spokesman Jonathon Dworkin in a statement. “The Toomey record is clear — defend Wall Street at the expense of working families, advocate for the privatization of social security and raise taxes on the middle class. People are tired of Wall Street/Washington insiders distorting the truth. Joe believes it’s time for accountable leadership.”

The race between Sestak and Toomey take over the U.S. Senate seat from outgoing incumbent Arlen Specter has become more heated this month. The two clashed earlier this week over Toomey’s small business past.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows the two candidates tied at 43 percent.

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For nearly a decade, PoliticsPA has been a must-read for the state's lawmakers, lobbyists, journalists and candidates, both in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. It offers daily links to the state's top stories, covers breaking news and provides analysis that can't be found anywhere else -- doing it with an edge others can't match. With editors in Washington, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PoliticsPA covers everything the Pennsylvania politico needs to know.
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