PA-Sen: Joe Sestak Sounds More Like He's Getting In Every Day

After meeting with Joe Sestak on Monday, SEIU President Andy Stern tweeted the following a few minutes ago:

Sestak is serious about Senate race. Doing Senate Finance Roundtable today on health care.

Sestak's own words to Greg Sargent following the meeting certainly seem to back up this assessment:

"I cannot see the unions across the board supporting Specter if he cannot support EFCA," Sestak said in an interview with me a few moments ago. "[Stern] let it be known that it's very much on the top of their agenda."

Sestak cautioned that Stern didn't directly address the 2010 primary. But he said the meeting went "great," strongly suggesting that SEIU is seriously considering supporting him or another primary challenger to Specter. "It was very clear that there were a number of issues we agree on," Sestak said of his much-anticipated meeting with Stern.

Sestak also confirmed that he'd almost certainly get in the race if Specter doesn't show a major ideological change of heart. "If he doesn't demonstrate that he has shifted his position on a number of issues, I would not hesitate at all to get in," Sestak said.

This is much stronger language than Sestak has used previously and, as Chris Bowers observes, it virtually assures a Sestak challenge considering how defiant Specter has been in recent interviews in terms of his unwillingness to shift left to conform to his new partisan designation. But ironically, while Specter's stubbornness makes Sestak's entrance into the race more likely, Sestak's challenge will itself make Specter shifting left more likely.

Bowers again:

It is a tough call for Sestak, but at the very least he is doing progressives a service by keeping his threat of a primary challenge so open and public. If Specter actually is going to start acting like a more reliable Democrat, there is a much better chance that he will do so with the sword of Sestak hanging over his head, then with the primary path cleared for him. As he revealed in his partisan switch, Specter clearly wavers when under threat of defeat.

Which makes Sestak's entrance into the race a win win for us when it comes to making a stronger more Democratic Senate.

Tags: Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak, PA-Sen (all tags)



Re: PA-Sen: Joe Sestak

If he does, there will be a contribution from me.

We can do better than Arlen Specter.

by Bob H 2009-05-05 03:47AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: Joe Sestak

Hear hear. Sestak will be a great candidate to challenge Specter AND whatever Repub decides to take him on.

If Specter does shift leftward, Sestak will surely have a much harder time prevailing. To my mind, that's all the more reason to contribute to his campaign. Win or lose, he'd be doing us all a service and deserves to be debt-free however it ends.

by Spiffarino 2009-05-05 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: Joe Sestak

I want Sesak to go all the way no matter how far "Left" Specter Goes. I we support this Unreliable Blue dog we will regret it! We all know what kind of Dem Specter will be and that kind we don't need in our party.

by eddieb 2009-05-05 09:13AM | 0 recs
Sen: Benedict Arnold Spector? Hell NO!

I cannot disagree more with your claim this is a win win for the Dems. Quietly I'm sure the Rethugs see this as a win iwn for them. They know Specter will not change his stripes and the last thing they want is a true progress to take his seat. I want Sestak to oust Specter no matter what! We need not only need MORE Dems but Better Dems too. Who needs another Lie-berman in the senate. How quickly we forget what Bluedogs do to Democratic legislation. The defeat of Mortage Cramdown, need I say more. Specter for all we know could return to being a repuglican at any time, especially if means shifting power back to the Repigs. You may say "Nonsense", I say don't bet on him. All he has to do is make this his Last term. He is exactly like lieberman, a man whose sole purpose in life is to use his claim to being independent to gain POWER and influence. This faux independence keeps him at the table, he must always be courted and appeased. There are a lot things we must accomplish in the years to come. We certainly don't need another un-ethical, unreliable, untrustworthy Dino undermining every progressive bill brought to the floor.

by eddieb 2009-05-05 04:38AM | 0 recs
Unprincipled Opportunist

I really hope Specter gets his ass handed to him during the Dem primary. He needs to be taught that Senate seats aren't private property, and no matter how long he's held the office, he doesn't own it.

I'm a diehard Dem, but I despise Specter so much, I'd rather Tom Ridge get the seat if a real Democrat can't. Maybe that would jolt some sense into Harry Reid and other clueless, self-absorbed Dems who are apparently concerned primarily with keeping their chummy Senate club intact, which means continuing to bat their eyelashes at DINOs like Specter.

by HP Stevens 2009-05-05 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Unprincipled Opportunist

I agree with you except for the Ridge win Shocker but I do understand you frustration! I'd rather Reid, The Blue Dogs and Obama be Shocked into reality by The Netroots and progressives beating the crap out of Specter with a real Progressive candidate like Sestak as we did with the Ned Lamont Win in Conn. That win changed the entire Democratic Dynamic over the war and set the path for our gains in 06 and 08! It also cleared the road for Obama. Just think how the shock of having a bunch of DFHs beat the shit out of a Candidate supported by Obama, Reid, The Dem Governor,  Blue dogs and DINOs. Now this kind of shock will certainly change the prevailing attitude in the Democratic party that they just ignore or dismiss progressives at will.

by eddieb 2009-05-05 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Unprincipled Opportunist

You're right, eddieb...if PA Dems can do to Specter what CT Dems did to Lieberman, even the DC Village would take notice. DFHs rule!

by HP Stevens 2009-05-05 09:08AM | 0 recs
Can Sestak win the primary without Rendell?

Eddie has pretty much promised the Dem Primary to Specter...

Which I think was very premature till we saw how Arlen voted.

But, that machine might be an uphill battle for Sestak, if Eddie sticks with Arlen.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-05 05:09AM | 0 recs
Can Sestak win the primary without Rendell?

I give a lot more credit to the Democratic voters than Beltway and establishment Democratic types do. There no fools they know Specter is an unethical opportunist and No Democrat and will gladly ignore Rendell and vote for Sestak. If only to show there no mindless sheep. What they need is a clear choice and Sestak meets that need.

by eddieb 2009-05-05 05:39AM | 0 recs

"I'm a diehard Dem, but I despise Specter so much, I'd rather Tom Ridge get the seat if a real Democrat can't."

Specter is clearly an opportunist, but if a possible primary threat makes him move to the left NOW (as he should, given his new PA constituency as a Democrat now encompasses primarily left-of-center Democrats) then we win for the short term. Don't forget that any primary challenge for that seat would not bear fruits until January of 2011. Much of the push for major changes in health care, education, energy and environmental policies will be done BEFORE 2011.  At the very least if Specter is removed from the filibuster ranks, instead wants to see an "up or down" vote on legislation (even legislation he intends to vote against in the end) it can be the difference between bringing major legislation to the floor (and guarantee passage) or having it stalled with a filibuster.

If I have a choice between Ridge and Specter, I take Specter.  Bush buddy Ridge is not an ideological conservative, but he would vote primarily with Republicans and would provide filibuster votes for them.  Leave the purity talk to rightwing nutjobs who would rather have only 20 Senators representing their party in Congress than having to contend with people in their midst who don't exactly share their ideological bent in every way.  

by devilrays 2009-05-05 05:11AM | 0 recs

Good points, devilrays. If a primary challenge pressures Specter to actually vote like a Democrat, then it's a net win for Dems, no denying it. The Ridge comment may be explained by my blind fury with Reid, Rendell, and the other establishment types who believe they can literally give the nomination to a POS like Specter.

by HP Stevens 2009-05-05 09:14AM | 0 recs
Joe Sestak Sounds Like

Is Joe Seatak playing bad cop to President Obama's good cop to assure Arlen Specter's vote on some key legislation like health care reform.  

by thenurse 2009-05-05 06:56AM | 0 recs
I hope so...

That is, I hope President Obama sees that he should at least allow us on The Left to challenge Specter so we can pressure him into voting more often for The President's agenda.

by atdleft 2009-05-05 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Joe Sestak Sounds Like

I sure as hell hope Sestak isnt a ringer, who is just "Playing bad cop". I'm sick and tired of Democratic triangulation. I want Democrats to say what he means and mean what they say.

by eddieb 2009-05-05 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: Senate races

CT and PA are going to be too close to call just like MO, OH, and NH.  Those are the states to watch. Here in Illinois likewise in CO the GOP doesn't have a deep enough bench to challenge the Dems.  Ginnoulious or Schakowski will be able to beat Mark Kirk and in CO, Bennet is in good shape for reelection. Like I said Spector is the same type of politician and Ridge and it sounds like self preservation to me for him to flip.

by olawakandi 2009-05-05 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: Senate races

The only way PA will be a close race is if it is Ridge vs. Specter.

Any other race will clearly give the Democrats the edge, whether it's Specter facing someone other than Ridge, or Ridge facing someone other than Specter, or neither of them in the general election.

Toomey vs. Specter (Specter)
Ridge vs. Sestak (Sestak)
Toomey vs. Sestak (Sestak)

Ridge vs. Specter (Too close to call)

by Obamaphile 2009-05-05 08:08AM | 0 recs
Draft Joe Sestak!

Has anyone started a "Draft Sestak" group? I'd join! And better yet, I'd tell my friends in PA to ask Sestak to run. I've always had great admiration for him, unlike Mr. "Snarlin' Arlen" who'll do anything to remain a corporate tool in the Senate.

by atdleft 2009-05-05 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Draft Joe Sestak!

I went on his web site and ask him to run with a promise of my money and my time!

by eddieb 2009-05-05 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: Joe Sestak /Spector

Good points. I'm glad that Sestak may possibly run.

Hold Spector's feet to the fire. If he's just the old self-centered Spector, there's no point in having him as a Democrat.


by altara 2009-05-05 07:30AM | 0 recs
Specter votes with... himself!

Unless he's being pressured and wants to hold on to his committee chair, that's how I remember it. His first principle (and maybe the only one) is survival.

He will be whippable until the election, but will be looking for the day when he give the party the finger. He will be more whippable if he has a real primary challenger.

As Jonathan Alter says, he's an ornery old cuss.

Yup, he's old. Sestak is not.

by Jeany 2009-05-05 09:47AM | 0 recs


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