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Sestak Calls Specter "Flight Risk"



Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak (D) is likely to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in next year's primary. AP Photo/George Widman

Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak (D) ramped up the rhetoric against Arlen Specter in an e-mail fundraising solicitation sent to donors today, calling the Democratic Senator a "flight risk" due to his party switch earlier this year.

"I believe that Pennsylvania deserves a real Democrat in its Senate seat, someone who always has and always will stand up for the values we believe in," wrote Sestak. "Not someone who might be with us just this year or next year for their own political survivability."

Sestak goes on to compare his near-certain challenge to Specter in next year's Democratic primary to President Barack Obama's race against then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in last year's presidential race. "As President Obama's election demonstrated, it is time for a new generation of leaders to come forward and to assume the the mantle of responsibility, and accountability," write Sestak.

Left unsaid in the e-mail appeal from Sestak is that Obama and the White House have already endorsed Specter's 2010 re-election bid, and the newest Democrat accompanied the president to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser earlier this month in Los Angeles. And, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) is hosting a fundraiser for Specter later this month in Washington.

Given the establishment support lined up behind Specter, Sestak's challenge is to find alternate funding mechanisms -- ideally a small-scale version of the small dollar donor base Obama built during the 2008 campaign.

Sestak ended March with $3.3 million in the bank, having collected $550,000 in the first three months of 2009. His June report, which will cover cash raised between April 1 an June 30, will be an early indicator of whether Sestak can keep up that sort of fundraising pace even as the party establishment works to dry up his dollars.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 17, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

"is there no way of blocking the verbal diarrhea of Zouk? other blogs have an ignore feature."

I second the request for an ignore feature.

Posted by: nodebris | June 18, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Posted by KoZ: "Libs seem to love the circular firing squad idea."

Irony alert! Specter left the Republican party precisely because he faced a (repeat) primary challenge. Goose and gander and all that.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 17, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I live in PA-7 (Sestak's district). Also left unsaid in Sestak's email appeal is his unwaivering support for Hillary throughout the primaries. This left a lot of PA-7 Democrats with a sour taste. We're unlikely to give money to his Senate campaign. Not to mention that his departure from PA-7 will open the door back up for a Republican takeover: this is far from a solid-blue district.

Posted by: richwiss | June 17, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Report: Sestak staffs up

Posted by Josh Drobnyk at 10:28:15 AM on June 16, 2009

"U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is staffing up for his Senate run, the Plum Line reports...

In yet another sign that Joe Sestak is dead serious about taking on Arlen Specter in the 2010 Pennsylvania Dem primary, Sestak has started building a campaign staff for a Senate race, according to a Democrat with direct knowledge of the conversations.

Sestak has interviewed a number of people who would work for his statewide communications operation and online outreach effort, and has talked to candidates for his field operation, the Democrat says."
*********************************
Link ("Pennsylvania Avenue" Blog, Allentown Morning Call):

http://blogs.mcall.com/penn_ave/2009/06/report-sestak-staffs-up.html


Posted by: NativeNorthernVirginian | June 17, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

@johannesrolf: Since this blog posts new entries at the top, we tend to read from the bottom up, and therefore see the "Posted by" before we see the content. Whenever you see zouk, scrivener50, or JakeD, just hit PgUp andgo directly to the next one. None of them post anything worth reading, and all of them post a lot when here.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 17, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

is there no way of blocking the verbal diarrhea of Zouk? other blogs have an ignore feature.

Posted by: johannesrolf | June 17, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes,

Growing up in Philadelphia and registering to vote in 1971, I can tell you that Specter was definitely a Good Guy at the time. While I was registered then as a Democrat and have never changed my party registration regardless of where I lived, until I moved out of Philly for good in 1977, I voted straight Republican in city elections-- as did my parents, who were real "yellow dog" Democrats. Frank Rizzo effectively-- and brutally-- ran Philly during the '70's, a thug-type boss if there ever was one. Specter was thought of as honest and a decent guy at the time.

But, I know my father hasn't voted for him in years, and told me a few weeks ago that he definitely intends to vote for Sestak. Specter's changed, sadly.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | June 17, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

The last time I checked, this was purported to be a free country (although possibly less so than in the past). If Rep. Sestak chooses to run, he should be 'allowed' to do so.

I don't doubt that promises were made to Sen. Specter as inducements to his switching parties, and these need to be followed through on in good faith.

However, any overt attempts to 'freeze out' Rep. Sestak in order to clear the field for Sen. Specter would be an outrageous breech of election law. If Toomey is the candidate for the Republicans, there's little doubt that the Dem. candidate will be victorious in 2010 (which was PRECISELY why Sen. Specter switched parties). Why shouldn't R. Sestak be allowed to participate in the D. primary?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | June 17, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

There was talk of Cornyn asking Gerlach (R, PA-6) to run in the primary against Toomey, but Gerlach has been preparing to run for Gov. for a while now (>1 yr.). He's reportedly giving the Senate seat a look, but the last poll I saw had Gerlach way behind Toomey. It becomes a matter of whether the PA GOP wants a moderate that will be competitive in the fall or, rather, an ideologically pure, past president of the CfG as a candidate.

Neither choice is great for Gerlach. Toomey almost knocked off Specter last time, so he's got strong underlying support. On the other hand, PA AG Tom Corbett is already running for the GOP Gov. nod and he's the only R that won state-wide office last election.

Posted by: mnteng | June 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

mnteng asks
"Surely you don't think Luksik will win the R primary, do you? Or are you intimating that you think Gerlach will run?"

Last I recall hearing, the PA GOP was having 2nd thoughts about Toomey. Is that not the case?

Posted by: bsimon1 | June 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1 writes:
"But... what if it ain't Toomey?"

Surely you don't think Luksik will win the R primary, do you? Or are you intimating that you think Gerlach will run?

Posted by: mnteng | June 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

ultimately qualified.

==

"eminently qualified"

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

someone following them around with a scoop and a shovel.

Posted by: chrisfox8

finally a position for which you are ultimately qualified.

I know your favorite position, as with most Libs, is "ankles behind ears" but complete submission to the dominator is not typically an American approach.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Why the democrats would want Arlen Specter is beyond me. I remember back in 2004 when he was in tough primary fight, he was always on Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity trying convince conservatives he was one of them. As soon as he won his primary fight and was reelected, he gave Bush and the conservatives the finger. You can count on Arlen now trying to convince liberals he's one of them, and if you fall for it and he's reelected, you can also count on him giving Obama and the liberals a big finger. Arlen is about Arlen

Posted by: vbhoomes | June 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday by barring Republicans from offering any amendments to spending legislation. This has never been done before in the entire history of the U.S. House of Representatives.

==

Well we've never had such infantile representatives before, whose only imperative in office is to obstruct the doing of business, so Pelosi was right to shut them out.

She should arrange chaperones for them too, and leashes, and someone following them around with a scoop and a shovel.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Spectre in his 70s and in failing health?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 17, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Sestak has still left himself a backdoor to get out of the race if his fundraising numbers don't match up to Specter -- the illness of his daughter. Now he's going around doing talk shows, telling donors he's going to run but still hasn't talked about it with his wife and daughter. Puh-leeze.

The way he uses his daughter for excuses makes me ill, such as when he backed out of a debate with his opponent at the last possible minute in 2008 because of his daughter's "doctor's appointment." Could he be any more transparent? Definitely earning himself some bad kharma.

Posted by: americaprd | June 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

President Obama promised he would end "Washington games." But his abrupt firing of the AmeriCorps inspector general is more of the same. The brewing scandal smells like the Beltway cronyism of the Bush years. And the apparent meddling of first lady Michelle Obama in the matter smacks of the corruption of the Clinton years. If Obama keeps up with this "change," we'll be back to the Watergate era by Christmas.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the incumbent Democrat in charge gives one of the government's front-line fighters of waste and fraud an hour to get out of town. (Snip)Meanwhile, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history Wednesday by barring Republicans from offering any amendments to spending legislation. This has never been done before in the entire history of the U.S. House of Representatives.

that's the Libs for ya. Please ignore anything they say.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If you are bothered by occasional or frequent constipation, look in the
mirror and repeat the following phrase three times in succession when
symptoms occur:

"My financial and personal well being are totally in the hands of Barack
Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, Rahm Emmanual,
Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore."

If that doesn't scare the sheet out of you, then you are probably
destined to be backed up for the rest of your life.

There is no need to thank me for this advice, I'm just doing a public
service.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama campaigning for Specter will be a flop. Certainly none of the committed activists that drove Obama's campaign will be on board. Specter is everything they detest. After all Obama's high-flying rhetoric, I can't seem him making a campaign speech for him with a straight face. I don't think changing parties out of pure political self-interest is quite the "Change We Can Believe In" he was talking about.

Posted by: anon99 | June 17, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

AndyR3:

That can't be done in PA. We have a sore loser law that prevents primary losers from running at independents in the general. Now, Specter can choose to run as an independent before the filing deadline, provided he can overcome the large hurdles (signatures from a number equivalent to 2% of the total votes of the largest vote cast for a PA candidate from the last election -- probably around 100,000).

Posted by: mnteng | June 17, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Specter would run as a "jack ass" if he thought he could reelected.

Posted by: NotBubba | June 17, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"The one possibility that hasn't been discussed is if Sestak wins will Specter pull a Liebermann and run as an independent. I don't know if that would work, but it is a definite possibility."

No. This is the reason Specter switched in the first place. PA has a so-called "Sore Loser Law" which prevents something like the Lieberman incident from happening. Specter switched because he thought he had a better cahnce at winning the D primary than the R Primary.

Posted by: VTDuffman | June 17, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The one possibility that hasn't been discussed is if Sestak wins will Specter pull a Liebermann and run as an independent. I don't know if that would work, but it is a definite possibility.

Posted by: AndyR3 | June 17, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a winning line of attack by Sestak. He can highlight Specter's recorded votes that were in line with the Republican leadership and put enough doubt in the minds of the PA Dems how much of a D Specter really is when it comes time for the primary. The ads almost write themselves -- "Why vote for Dem-lite when you can have the real thing?" Also, the "flip-flop" charge that was particularly effective against Kerry should work here as well.

I'm interested to see how much campaigning and fundraising BHO is willing to do for Specter. If it looks like there's a groundswell of grass-roots support for Sestak, I bet BHO doesn't make more than a perfunctory appearance or two.

Posted by: mnteng | June 17, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Iran accuses US of meddling after disputed vote
Aw,shucks. All the waffling and wimping, voting 'present' for democracy and being "troubled" backfires

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

nodebris writes
"Either way, Toomey is toast."


But... what if it ain't Toomey?


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | June 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Sestak is great. Attaboy. Arlen dug his own grave. He switched parties for selfish reasons and then refused to give his allegiance to his new party. Too bad.

Posted by: drindl | June 17, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Either way, Toomey is toast.

Posted by: nodebris | June 17, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

You have to wonder how solidly the establishment support of Specter really is. I can only imagine that it is only for pragmatic electability reasons. If Sestak can show that he is a good fundraiser (especially given his limited sources), then groups might start to come around. It seems like Sestak has a pretty good war chest. All else being equal, I'd say the guy who can get a lot of small donors has a better chance of winning than a guy who gets a few big donors. For small donors, the donation is more of an emotional commitment to a candidate than a monetary one. If Sestak can inspire that kind of passion a year and a half before the election, then I'd say he has a very strong shot of beating Specter and Toomey.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 17, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Libs seem to love the circular firing squad idea.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | June 17, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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