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Tags: Joe Sestak

Denver Post: We’re Skeptical of Politicians Who Refuse to Answer Questions



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The Denver Post concludes that rumors in their state’s Senate race are a little too close for comfort to the tale of Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania:

In Pennsylvania, the administration has admitted it enlisted no less a power player than Bill Clinton to ask Rep. Joe Sestak to stop his bid against Obama ally Sen. Arlen Specter. Clinton suggested Sestak remain in the House and accept an influential, but non-paying, role on an advisory panel. (Sestak has since ousted Specter.)

The Denver Post last September quoted unnamed sources that said Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina, contacted former state House Speaker Romanoff, who hadn’t yet announced his candidacy, with specific suggestions for Washington jobs in exchange for his staying out of the race against appointed Sen. Michael Bennet.

The White House denied any such offer, but sources told The Post’s Michael Riley: “Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency.”

Obama endorsed Bennet the day after Romanoff formally announced he was in the race.

We read Riley’s story with particular interest. Only days before it ran, after hearing whispers of a Romanoff job offer, we asked the former House speaker directly whether he had been offered a job by the White House to drop out of the race.

He told us unequivocally that he had not been offered a position.

The matter dropped off the political radar until Sestak admitted on the campaign trail that he was offered some sort of job.

Romanoff now refuses to answer questions about whether he was, in fact, offered a job. In fact, Romanoff refuses even to offer an explanation for why he won’t answer the question. And yet, like Obama, Romanoff’s campaign theme has been to run against the Washington way of doing things.

We don’t know what to make of all the secrecy. Without an explanation, voters are left to wonder who to believe. And if Obama doesn’t mind the position in which that places Romanoff, he ought to care about where it places him.

Permit me to offer the cynical assessment: Yes, the Obama administration sees executive-branch staff positions as a pile of gift cards to be used to buy off inconvenient Democratic primary challengers. Yes, this is precisely the sort of thing that bribery laws are supposed to prevent. And yes, everyone in the Obama administration knows there will be no serious consequence for breaking this law.

Tags: Andrew Romanoff , Joe Sestak , Michael Bennet

How Did Richard Blumenthal Not End Up Making a Trip to Haiti?



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Back in January, when Haiti was enduring the immediate crisis of the earthquake, former president Bill Clinton — i.e., the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti — took time to head up to Massachusetts and appear at a rally for Martha Coakley; he told NRO’s Bob Costa that the aims of helping Coakley and helping Haiti were not mutually exclusive.

Now that everyone has questions about his role in the job offer to Sestak, Bill Clinton is off to Haiti and the Dominican Republic:

On Tuesday, June 1, President Clinton will travel to Haiti and visit Léogâne, where he will meet with UN Cluster Heads, UN agencies and community leaders.  He will then tour a temporary housing site.   Both are open to the press.

President Clinton will then travel to the Dominican Republic where he and Haitian Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive, will brief board representatives — including donors and Haitians — of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC). There will be a spray at the top.

On Wednesday, June 2, he will address the summit on Haiti, “Solidarity beyond the Crisis,” in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. His remarks are open press.

Great timing. Look, it’s not like every southern Democrat runs to Haiti when the public thinks they’ve caught them in a lie . . .

Tags: Bill Clinton , Joe Sestak , John Edwards

They Could Have Picked Up a Newspaper



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The story from the White House is that they simply sent Bill Clinton to see if Joe Sestak was serious about running for Senate.

Well, buzz about him as a possible Senate candidate had been around since the preceding November. The Los Angeles TimesNovember 26, 2008:

The Northeast’s dwindling cast of Senate Republicans has Democrats circling Arlen Specter’s seat in Pennsylvania, convinced the party is well-positioned to make a competitive race out of the 2010 election . . . Others considered in the mix include Rep. Joe Sestak, who is sitting on $3 million in campaign funds.

So we’re to believe that at some point, Rahm Emanuel said, “Hey, there’s a two-term Democratic congressman who’s sitting on $3 million and who has been rumored to be interested in running for Senate since last year who’s making noises about taking on a cranky 80-year-old five-term incumbent whose popularity is tanking. Hey, let’s send a former president to see if he’s bluffing.”

Tags: Arlen Specter , Bill Clinton , Joe Sestak

The ‘Bribe Sestak’ Suspect List Can’t Be That Long



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From the Monday edition of Morning Jolt:

When Toomey Wins, He’ll Wish He Ses-took That Offer

Politico: “Rep. Joe Sestak, winner of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, is refusing to provide more information on what job he was offered by a White House official to drop of that race, although he confirmed again that the incident occurred. The White House was backing incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the primary. Sestak acknowledged in an interview in February that he was offered a position by an unnamed White House official — a potential violation of federal law — but has not offered any specifics on conversation. Republicans are trying to use the issue against Sestak in the November Senate race.”

Are they really trying to use this against Sestak? I thought they were using it against the White House. Because he comes across pretty well in this story — too determined to represent his state to consider what amounts to a bribe. Perhaps Sestak looks a little squishy for not naming names. But how much doubt is there about who would be the one offering a job like this? Dollars to doughnuts, if a job offer to a candidate is made, the trail leads back to a figure whose name rhymes with either “Schmam Schemanuel” or “Schmavid Schmaxelrod.”

Doug Powers, writing at Michelle Malkin’s site, does think that the unwillingness to provide details about a potential crime does reflect pretty badly on Sestak: “It’s almost as if he’s saying, ‘Yes, that was true at the time I first said it.’ Sestak’s either lying and can’t recant because there’s an election coming up and he’d be Blumenthalling himself into oblivion, or he woke up next to a horse’s head one day and can take his accusations no further, but can’t back out of them either. His seeming ‘challenge’ to the press is to get the White House to admit it — and you’d have better luck getting Michael Moore to admit he’s actually a capitalist pig. If you accuse an ‘unnamed’ person of a felony, it isn’t ‘somebody else’s reponsibility’ to find out who it was. Try telling the police somebody told you they robbed a bank, and when the cops ask you who it was, answering, ‘it’s your responsibility to find that out and get that person to admit it.’ You’d be at the station being questioned before too long — and that’s where Sestak should be.”

Lorie Byrd, too, sees this as a potentially major issue in the Senate race: “If someone were to offer Senator Sestak a bribe, would he just turn them down and leave it up to them to turn themselves in? Or would he let the proper authorities, and the voters, know what was going on, to serve as a strong deterrent for such behavior? Even if Sestak did not want to raise the issue of the White House job offer, now that it is out in the open doesn’t he have some responsibility to provide additional details? It appears he doesn’t think so. After all, he said, ‘That’s their responsibility.’ Well, at least with that statement he is clear with the voters about where he stands on the issue of responsibility.”

Hey, remember in the bad old days of the unilateralist cowboy in the White House and the Abramoff scandal and everything else that we were told was a moral quagmire? At least back then the Oval Office throw pillows weren’t embroidered with “snitches get stitches.”

UPDATE: Moe Lane disagrees:

Unless there was an active conspiracy permeating the entire Executive Branch to bribe Joe Sestak, somebody in the White House is innocent of this crime — but until we get the full details of what happens, we won’t know who. And while I may have been heavily critical of the unprofessional behavior of the White House’s staffers, I think it’s hardly fair of Sestak to talk about this scandal in a fashion that implicates all of them.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Sestak

“I Don’t Have Anything to Add to That” = “You Caught Us”



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Let me offer an interpretation of Robert Gibbs being even less capable of answering a simple question than usual: If the White House had not offered Joe Sestak a job in exchange for withdrawing from the Pennsylvania Senate race, the White House press secretary would be saying, “We did not offer him a job.”

Instead, Gibbs twitches and repeats endlessly, “I don’t have anything to add to that” and “I’ll refer to what I just said,” like a malfunctioning robot from Westworld.

If the answer were “no,” Gibbs’s answer would be “no.” If the answer is “yes,” Gibb’s answer would resemble a senior moment of confusion coupled with an inability to understand Ed Henry’s supremely simple and direct question.

Tags: Joe Sestak , Robert Gibbs

Specter Can Avoid His Toomsday, but Sestak Is Still Toomed



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Toomeyworld isn’t too worried about a poll showing their man trailing by a bit in the general election against Sestak.

The sense is, with $5 million in ads in the past couple of days, and his victory over one of the state’s giants dominating the headlines, Sestak was due for a big bump. There’s a suspicion that right now, most Pennsylvanians know Sestak just as a former Navy officer who didn’t switch parties as recently as Specter did.

In that same poll, Rasmussen found:

Among voters not affiliated with either major political party in the state, Toomey leads 41% to 32%.

Forty-seven percent (47%) of Pennsylvania voters approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 52% disapprove. Those numbers include 27% who strongly approve of the president’s performance and 39% who strongly disapprove.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Pennsylvania voters favor repeal of the health care law, which is slightly higher than results found nationwide. Thirty-five percent (35%) oppose repeal of the law. Those numbers include 47% who strongly favor repeal and 25% who strongly oppose it.

I’m also reminded of last year’s Virginia governor’s race, where Creigh Deeds surprised everyone by winning the primary by a wide margin over Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran. A few days later, Rasmussen showed him up 47 percent to 41 percent. It turned out to be the only poll Deeds led over McDonnell the entire year, and McDonnell won by the widest margin by a GOP gubernatorial nominee ever in Virginia, 59 percent to 41 percent.

UPDATE: One of my favorite readers, Number Cruncher, weighs in:

If I were Sestak’s campaign manager, I would be disappointed with that.  Mark it down, the next time Rasmussen polls this race Toomey will be up again by 3 to 5, probably winning by about 6 or 7.  Trust me, this is a lousy bounce, I expected Sustak to be up by 8 or 9 in this Democratic State.  Lets see his 46 percent when Toomey starts comparing Sustak to Pelosi and Reid.

Tags: Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey

Quick, Good News for Rand Paul, Joe Sestak



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A primary bounce that’s good for the GOP:

Rand Paul, riding the momentum of his big Republican Primary win on Tuesday, now posts a 25-point lead over Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, but there’s a lot of campaigning to go.

A primary bounce that’s bad for the GOP:

Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak’s victory over longtime Senator Arlen Specter for his party’s nomination Tuesday has given him a bounce in support in Pennsylvania’s general election for U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Sestak picking up 46 percent support over Republican nominee Pat Toomey’s 42 percent.

Tags: Jack Conway , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey , Rand Paul

Did Joe Sestak’s Surge Save Mark Critz?



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Talking to an NRCC guy who’s looked at last night’s numbers extensively, he concludes that the polls and expectations in Pennsylvania’s special election were thrown off not merely by the competitive Democratic Senate primary, but particularly by Joe Sestak’s surge in the final two weeks.

Committee strategists worried about the effect of the Senate primary at first, but as they started getting polling numbers back, they suspected the special election would be the chief driver for turnout in this part of the state. Until the beginning of May or so, that seemed to be the case. But in the final weeks, Sestak’s surge — driven by massive amounts of television advertising, hitting Specter for his ties to George W. Bush — drove a sudden burst of interest in voting among the Democratic base. This analyst thinks these Sestak-driven voters amounted to about 8,000 to 10,000 voters, roughly the size of Critz’s margin of victory. The Sestak-surge-driven Democrats turned out because they were determined to toss out Specter; they were more liberal and more partisan than your average district Democrat. Thus, Tim Burns, who usually ran well among Democrats, in the neighborhood of 20 percent, probably only won about 15 percent of Democrats last night.

This NRCC number-cruncher notes that on paper, the Republicans did have high-intensity turnout; they outperformed the highest Republican level of turnout for a primary – although that’s not the highest bar to clear; since Murtha usually appeared untouchable, GOP primaries in this district weren’t usually big affairs, with 20,000 to 26,000 votes. The Republicans brought out 45,000 votes and expected the Democrats to bring out about 60,000 votes. (If Burns took 20 percent of that, and kept most of the Republican vote, he would win handily.)

Instead, 83,000 Democratic voters turned out.

This NRCC number-cruncher isn’t drawing a ton of conclusions from this race yet, but he wonders if there’s a need for Republicans to be wary of poll numbers indicating rural, red-state, or coal-country Democrats are turning against the party they traditionally support: “We can’t take that at face value. We’ve got to have a little cynicism about those numbers, because these are folks who have been voting for Democrats for decades, and their moms and dads were voting for Democrats for decades before that. They don’t just jump across that easily.”

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak , Mark Critz , NRCC , Tim Burns

Why Did Joe Sestak Lose Momentum?



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It looks like Democrat Joe Sestak will end the career of Sen. Arlen Specter. If this comes to pass, it’s probably a tougher race for Republican Pat Toomey. But there’s something intriguing about how this primary fight developed. Sestak kept his powder dry, then went up on the airwaves…

As you can see, once the Sestak offensive begain, the margin closed pretty quickly. Specter had healthy double-digit margins in March, and then by early May it was within the margin of error. The challenger caught up, and then… the momentum stopped. We’ll see how Sestak does tonight; right now, he seems on pace for a narrow win. But he managed to have just enough to catch up, and then, for some reason, he couldn’t pull away. The Rendell machine? Appreciation for seniority? Last-minute doubts about Sestak?

UPDATE: At about 10:15 Eastern, the AP calls the race for Sestak.

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak

Predictions for the May Primaries...



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Sometimes I’m really right (Massachusetts special Senate election) and sometimes I’m not. I see things similarly to John Miller.

My sense of how things play out today:

Pennsylvania Senate primary, Democrats: Joe Sestak 52 percent, Specter 48 percent. I’m less confident of this one than I was a few days ago. Almost all of the momentum is on Sestak’s side, the crowds for Specter’s events have been small, and the White House is reportedly preparing for a Specter defeat.

But the polling shows a high number of undecided voters – at least 10 percent in most polls -  and I wonder if those folks just stay home. Sestak’s had plenty of time to make the sale to these folks, and has advertised heavily. He’s caught up close to Specter, but you would figure in this environment, running against an 80-year-old five-term incumbent who was a Republican up until about a year ago, he should be able to roar ahead. I’ll stick with my original prediction, but if Specter ends up eking out a victory by the skin of his teeth, thanks to a better organization, I won’t be surprised. And, of course, Pat Toomey will be pleased.

Arkansas Senate Primary, Democrats: Blanche Lincoln 49 percent, Bill Halter 47 percent, Other 4 percent. This one is rather moot, as it will probably go to a runoff, but I think that Lincoln is safe in a primary this year. Again, Halter’s had a lot of time to close the sale in an anti-incumbent year, and still trails most polls.

Arkansas Senate Primary, Republicans: Rep. John Boozman way ahead of everyone with 47 percent; he and Gilbert Baker are in a runoff.

Kentucky Senate Primary, Democrats: Daniel Mongiardo over Jack Conway. Yeah, you don’t care about this one.

Kentucky Senate Primary, Republicans: Rand Paul over Trey Grayson. Won’t be close, something like 56 percent to 44 percent.

Pennsylvania’s 12th District Special House Election: Republican Tim Burns over Mark Critz by a hair. I feel more confident knowing that Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman is making the same call. There’s more enthusiasm on the Republican side, but Critz is running in a district with a lot of Democrats. Independents appear to be breaking pretty heavily to Burns. Critz hasn’t been that bad a candidate, but he’s in a district where Obama’s approval is low, Pelosi is disdained, the health care bill is hated, cap-and-trade is seen as a job killer, and unemployment is high. What is he supposed to talk about? What is he supposed to campaign on?

Tags: Arlen Specter , Bill Halter , Blanche Lincoln , Joe Sestak , John Boozman , Mark Critz , Rand Paul , Tim Burns

Quinnipiac Puts Sestak Up by 1 Over Specter



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Yet another poll showing a close race in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary goes down to the wire with U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak taking 42 percent of likely primary voters to Sen. Arlen Specter’s 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted through Sunday night and released today. With 16 percent undecided and 25 percent of those who do back a candidate saying they might change their mind, the race is too close to call.

“The Sestak-Specter race is a dead heat and could go either way. Sen. Arlen Specter has the party organization behind him, which should help with turnout. But Congressman Joe Sestak could benefit from the relatively large group of undecided voters. Generally, incumbents don’t do all that well with undecideds, who are more likely to vote for the challenger or not vote,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Back on May 3, I predicted a Sestak win; the best-case scenario for Pat Toomey, I would posit, is a very narrow Specter win.

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak

Doesn’t Anybody Want to Listen to Arlen Specter?



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Campaign Spot reader Paul noticed this line in the fourth paragraph of a story on ABC News:

Specter kicked off a day of appearances in and around his home city of Philadelphia at a rally at a sprawling cargo terminal along the Delaware River, which is being deepened to allow the entry of larger ships in a dredging project for which the former Republican has led the fight over much of his 30-year Senate career. It is expected to create an estimated 125,000 jobs.

“The job’s not finished, and I need another term in office to bring these 125,000 jobs to this region,” he told reporters just before speaking at a windy, riverfront rally that attracted about 100 union members.

Really? The longtime incumbent comes out to a Democratic stronghold, two days away from the primary, and only 100 union members show up? That seems like a giant red flag.

Yesterday I got to hear a bit of Specter’s debate with Democratic primary rival Joe Sestak*. Obviously, I’m not a Democrat, but if I were, I think I would prefer Sestak; he kept bringing up Specter’s ties to the Bush administration and other Republican efforts.

Specter, for his part, mentioned at least four times that he stood up to “the Tea Party Gang.” Besides making critics of the health-care plan sound like a Dick Tracy villain, no one made much out of the fact that Specter was bragging about standing up to his own constituents.

The good news for Republican Pat Toomey is that the two Democrats spent the debate trying to out-liberal each other; each one insisted that he was more opposed to extending the Bush tax cuts, more supportive of gun control, etc. That may sell in a Democratic primary, but will be a much tougher sell in a general election, particularly in a year like this.

*I originally wrote Stupak. Of course, if Specter wins Tuesday, it means this was a terrible year to be a Rust Belt House Democrat with a last name that starts with “S” and ends with “ak.”

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey

Or the Two Democrats Could Merge to Form ‘Specstak’



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Three polls out this morning in Pennsylvania’s primary: the Morning Call tracking poll finds Sestak and Specter tied at 45 percent each; Quinnipiac finds Specter ahead by 2 percentage points, and Franklin and Marshall finds Sestak ahead by 2 percentage points.

I’m sticking with my prediction of a Sestak win, but the optimum scenario for Republican Pat Toomey — a narrow Specter win that leaves a lot of Democrats unenthused about their turncoat nominee — still looks like a real possibility.

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey

Arlen Specter’s Slide Continues



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Today, the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and the Morning Call’s tracking poll in Pennsylvania finds Joe Sestak
up over Sen. Arlen Specter, 47-42 percent, in that state’s Democratic Senate primary.

I wrote on May 3: “I’ll make an audacious prediction: Joe Sestak will beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.”

UPDATE: Rasmussen sees a Sestak surge, too; they put the challenger up, 47 percent to 42 percent.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader in Pennsylvania is underwhelmed with Specter’s ads:

Specter has an ad where he touts his experience and gives 3 minor ‘achievements’ (voted for stem cell research, voted to raise minimum wage 8 times, and some other forgettable thing).  I turned to my wife and said, “30+ years and that’s all he can come up with?”  He -is- in trouble.  He won’t beat Sestak.

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak

The Evaporation of Arlen Specter’s Lead Was Predictable



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Not to brag, but I wrote on May 3: “I’ll make an audacious prediction: Joe Sestak will beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.”

Four days later, the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and the Morning Call begin their tracking poll and find: “Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter and challenger Congressman Joe Sestak are tied in the race to garner the Democratic Party nomination for the United States Senate.”

More importantly, this is the first poll to find them tied.

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak

Doomsday May Come Before Toomsday For Arlen Specter



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I’ll make an audacious prediction: Joe Sestak will beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.

Sestak appears to be closing the gap a bit. I imagine Specter’s name ID advantage built most of his early lead, and Sestak’s television offensive is starting to pick up steam. Specter is trying a Crist-style negative barrage, but I don’t think that is going to work for a lot of entrenched incumbents this year. Negative ads haven’t done much for Jon Corzine or Charlie Crist in recent months.

What’s more, I think this is a rather important test of the self-respect of Pennsylvania Democrats. President Obama and Vice President Biden, eager to get that 60th vote, tried to ensure a clear primary for Specter. But ultimately, who represents Keystone State Democrats isn’t up to some guy from Delaware and some guy from Hawaii California New York Illinois the District of Columbia. Most Pennsylvania Democrats have been voting against Arlen Specter for the better part of a generation; it ought to take more than a year and a half of toeing the party line for them to forget all the times they’ve disagreed with him, and/or his recent murmurs that maybe he should have remained in the GOP. If they really do back Specter because the DSCC tell them to, they rank among biggest political cheap dates of all time.

I think Pat Toomey will have a slightly tougher race against Sestak; by eliminating the incumbent, it takes away the clearest contrast between a candidate of change and a candidate of more-of-the-same. But Toomey will be running against Washington, and either Democrat will be seen as part of “the system.” Sestak voted for health care, voted for the stimulus, voted for cap-and-trade, and he’s F-rated by the NRA.

(I would argue that the ideal scenario for Toomey fans is a narrow win for Specter, and that scenario seems quite possible.)

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey , Pennsylvania

Doomsday May Come Before Toomsday for Arlen Specter



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I’ll make an audacious prediction: Joe Sestak will beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.

Sestak appears to be closing the gap a bit. I imagine Specter’s name-ID advantage built most of his early lead, and Sestak’s television offensive is starting to pick up steam. Specter is trying a Crist-style negative barrage, but I don’t think that is going to work for a lot of entrenched incumbents this year. Negative ads haven’t done much for Jon Corzine or Charlie Crist in recent months.

What’s more, I think this is a rather important test of the self-respect of Pennsylvania Democrats. President Obama and Vice President Biden, eager to get that 60th vote, tried to ensure a clear primary for Specter. But ultimately, who represents Keystone State Democrats isn’t up to some guy from Delaware and some guy from Hawaii California New York Illinois the District of Columbia. Most Pennsylvania Democrats have been voting against Arlen Specter for the better part of a generation; it ought to take more than a year and a half of toeing the party line for them to forget all the times they’ve disagreed with him, and/or his recent murmurs that maybe he should have remained in the GOP. If they really do back Specter because the DSCC tells them to, they rank among the biggest political cheap dates of all time.

I think Pat Toomey will have a slightly tougher race against Sestak; by eliminating the incumbent, it takes away the clearest contrast between a candidate of change and a candidate of more-of-the-same. But Toomey will be running against Washington, and either Democrat will be seen as part of “the system.” Sestak voted for health care, voted for the stimulus, voted for cap-and-trade, and is F-rated by the NRA.

(I would argue that the ideal scenario for Toomey fans is a narrow win for Specter, and that scenario seems quite possible.)

Tags: Arlen Specter , Joe Sestak , Pat Toomey , Pennsylvania

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