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.

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1 comedian + 1 chameleon do not equal a Senate working majority

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

With Arlen Specter a Democrat again (he started out as one in the `70's) and Al Franken on the verge of breaking former Senator Coleman's four corner stall in Minnesota, the Washington conventional wisdom says the Democrats will finally have the filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes that they have been missing.  Right?  Not so fast.

There is no reason to believe the addition of the comedian and the chameleon to the Democratic caucus meetings will give the Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof voting block.  All it does is move the swing votes in the Senate from Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to the likes of Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Tom Carper.

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PA-Sen: On Meet The Press Arlen Specter Promises To Be A Very Bad Democrat

In his zeal to convince the world that his party switch was somehow premised upon principle rather than political opportunism, Arlen Specter today on Meet The Press went out of his way to assure us all just what a bad Democrat he intends to be. During one exchange, he boasted once again of his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, essentially saying "I bucked the Republican Party when I was a Republican and I'll buck the Democratic Party as a Democrat." Ahh, sweet oh so virtuous independence, Lieberman and Bloomberg would be proud. At another point in the interview, Specter went even further, denying reports that he'd told President Obama that he would be a "loyal Democrat."

Via Think Progress:

GREGORY: It was reported this week that when you met with the president, you said, "I will be a loyal democrat. I support your agenda." Let me test that on probably one of the most important areas of his agenda, and that's health care. Would you support health care reform that puts up a government run public plan to compete with a private plan issued by a private insurance company?

SPECTER: No. And you misquote me, David. I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose closure on key issues. ...I did not say I am a loyal Democrat.

Wow, so opposition to EFCA, opposition to a public health care option, opposition to President Obama's budget...nope, no signs of being a loyal Democrat here. In fact, I think it's pretty clear that he will be a consistent stumbling block to President Obama's agenda, at least that's what he's promising to be. Which begs the question, how exactly did that conversation with the president go? If Specter didn't tell Obama he'll be a loyal Democrat, did President Obama really tell Specter that he'd campaign for him in the primary? Obviously the president owes Specter for his support of the stimulus package but at this point, how can President Obama actually campaign for someone who intends to block key elements of his agenda against someone who intends to support it? He wouldn't have done so prior to Tuesday but now that Specter has a D next to his name, suddenly he's eligible for presidential support? That doesn't sound like transcending partisanship to me.

Today on Meet The Press, Arlen Specter made an even stronger case for a contested primary than any Democrat yet has. After an appearance like this, any Dem who tries to clear the field or talk about Specter running unopposed (ahem, Gov. Rendell...) should be a laughing stock. Also, any Democratic committee that supports Specter before the primary plays out would lose all contributions from me not to mention any credibility as a fierce supporter of the Democratic agenda. Which is why the President can not and must not campaign for Specter in this primary.

In my unscientific poll on Friday, 100% of you said Joe Sestak should run for Senate against Specter. After today's MTP, my guess is that he's more likely to do so rather than less. Bring it on, Joe.

Video of Specter on MTP this morning is below:

Update [2009-5-3 15:15:17 by Todd Beeton]:This is promising. Andy Stern tweeted this earlier today:

Congressman Sestak impressive on CNN. Visiting him tomorrow.

Momentum for a contested Democratic primary builds.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 212

This last week was the 6th anniversary of Bush's Mission Accomplished speech about Iraq. Meanwhile US soldiers are still dying in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Taliban are slowly taking over more and more of BOTH Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Osama bin Laden is still free. I never was quite sure what mission Bush thought he'd accomplished. Other than miserable failure.

Swine flu continues to be the big news story. And it will continue to be, I think, but I still say that with modern amentities like clean water, indoor heating and fever reducing medicine, this won't be as bad as past pandemics, at least in the US. Remember to wash you hands a lot! I want to also direct people's attention to this: UW Virologist Puts Swine Flu in Perspective.

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Pushing Specter

Last night I saw Mike Lux speak at our local Drinking Liberally to promote his book The Progressive Revolution. Lux had the crowd rapt with examples of how the progressive movement throughout history has successfully pushed our often resistant leadership toward justice and equality. His call to action: now it is our job to push Obama and Congressional Democrats for without us, the unique potential that exists at this point in time for a "big change moment" will be lost.

I asked Mike what he thought about the Arlen Specter switch and he said he thought it was mostly a good thing, that he's likely to be with us 20 to 25% more often than he was when he was in the Republican caucus, but that we've got to keep the pressure on and the best way to do that is not letting him run unopposed in the primary. I completely agree.

Along those lines, I'm glad to see that Joe Sestak is not going away. Rather, he went on MSNBC today and reiterated his concern about what Specter is going to be for as a Democrat implying that if he's a bad Democrat, he should be challenged.

Watch it:

Also, today Andy Stern sent out a memo to SEIU's Pennsylvania members taking a much harder stand on Specter than his initial statement of support for Specter's switch did on Tuesday. Stern writes that while he applauds Specter's move...

...SEIU has always been an organization that supports candidates and elected officials based on their commitment to working families, not their party labels.

The issues that face working people in Pennsylvania have not changed, and the support we need from our representatives in Congress hasn't changed, either.

We know there have been contradictory and confusing reports about what Senator Specter's decision means for the priorities of working families in our state. In a word: our fight for Employee Free Choice and quality, affordable healthcare continues, as strong as ever.

He goes on to say that SEIU will continue to put pressure on Specter on EFCA through phone calls, letters and protests until...

...Sen. Specter supports the principles of the Employee Free Choice Act: allowing workers, not employers, to choose how and when to form a union; enforcing real penalties for employers who break the law; and ensuring that those who've chosen a union can actually secure a contract.


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