Sestak (Likely) In Against Specter
Update, 7:15 p.m.: Sestak, sort of, confirmed that he is going to challenge Specter during an interview on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" moments ago. "My intentions are to get in this race pending a final family decision," said Sestak. He added that he looked at the Senate race as a "deployment" (Sestak is a lifelong military man) and needed final sign off from his family before making a final decision to run.
Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak is planning to run against Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010 but those familiar with his thinking caution no announcement is imminent and that he could well change his mind on the race.
"I have heard from people close to him that he is in but will not announce for months because he does not need to announce yet for a fundraising bounce," said one senior Pennsylvania-based Democratic operative of Sestak.
The source added that Sestak will likely serve as a "stalking horse" to the incumbent through the fall -- watching to see if Specter embraces his new party sufficiently well -- and gauging whether he can continue to raise significant money for a primary against Specter.
Sestak, who had been mulling a challenge to Specter prior to the incumbent's party switch, had more than $3 million in the bank at the end of March -- a significant downpayment on what could be a double-digit million dollar primary against the always well-funded Specter.
A number of sources the Fix spoke to in an attempt to divine Sestak's intentions warned that the Congressman keeps extremely close counsel -- his sister and brother are his two closest advisers -- and, as a result, it's very difficult to know exactly what he is thinking at any time.
Sestak's office offered no comment on his intentions.
The news of Sestak's seeming decision to challenge Specter was first reported by Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler.
Assuming Sestak makes the race, he is going up against the titans of Democratic politics -- from President Barack Obama who has endorsed Specter and promised to campaign for him to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Specter was scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with Obama tonight in Los Angeles.
Sestak takes his anti-establishment credentials as a point of pride -- repeatedly noting that he was not the candidate the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wanted to run against then Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006 but he was elected and re-elected last November.
Polling suggests that Specter would start the primary as a decided favorite. A survey done for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in early May showed Specter leading Sestak 56 percent to 16 percent. A poll done for a labor-backed 527 group, however, showed significant softness in Specter's numbers when voters are informed of some of the votes he made as a Republican.
May 27, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
Categories: Democratic Party , Senate
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