Sestak Goads Specter Into Supporting Dawn Johnsen

Competitive primaries can have positive effects.

Nominees for the U.S. Department of Justice are rarely high-profile enough to warrant attention in an election. Not so in this year's Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination, sent an e-mail to supporters today about Dawn Johnsen. Johnsen, an Indiana University at Bloomington law professor, is President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and last year Specter helped delay Johnsen’s nomination. Specter was the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

[...]

Republicans, including Specter at the time, have criticized Johnsen for her writings about abortion and civil liberties, and her stalled nomination has become a leading cause for advocates of abortion rights. Johnsen’s supporters say they might have enough votes for confirmation if the Senate’s Democratic leaders decide to take the time to break the GOP filibuster.

Just a few hours after being challenged by Congressman Sestak, his opponent in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter responded:

A statement from Specter's office: “After voting 'pass' (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor.”

With Republican Richard Lugar, Johnsen's home state Senator, already committed to backing her nomination (update: and confirming his support), it appears that Johnsen should now have sufficient support to make it through the Senate (even with conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson in opposition). The special election in Massachusetts could potentially alter this math, but if the Democratic caucus remains at 60, and both Lugar and Ben Nelson vote as expected, a filibuster could not be sustained.

Indeed, once her nomination hits the 60-vote mark, I would expect it to get more support than that on a cloture vote as Senators like Judd Gregg, Lamar Alexander and Orrin Hatch -- Republicans who tend to vote for cloture on nominees even if they eventually vote no on the final vote (as they did in the case of the nomination of Harold Koh as legal advisor to the State Department) -- jump on board.

Can Cheryle Jackson End the War in Afghanistan?

Add Illinois to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/can-arlen-specter-end-the_b_388604.html">Pennsylvania</a> as states where there is a contested Senate primary in which the war in Afghanistan has become an issue. The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> reports that the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama's former seat in the Senate have staked out diametrically opposed positions. A Tribune <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/elections/chi-poll-senate-14-dec14,0,5398298.story">poll</a> last month reported that Alexi Giannoulias and Cheryle Jackson were the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination. On Afghanistan, the <em>Tribune</em> reports that Cheryle Jackson wants to end the war, while Giannoulias supports it: <blockquote>"It is time to take care of America again and time to bring our troops home," said Democratic Senate contender <a href="http://www.cheryle2010.com/">Cheryle Jackson</a>, a former president of the Chicago Urban League. "Until we stop spending hundreds of billions on wars, we will not have the focus or money to solve the challenges we face at home."</blockquote>

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US Senate Democratic candidates lining up against Afghanistan surge

I blogged about this earlier in the week, and sure enough, its becoming the trend. In Kentucky, Jack Conway, who is the AG running for the open Senate seat, has come out saying he "expresses reservations about President Obama's plan for troop surge" and that Obama has not adequately expressed a rationale for sending more troops.

Conway's position is in opposition to KY LG Dan Mongiardo, who stated yesterday that he was "inclined to support a troop surge in Afghanistan." Combine that with the contrast over mountaintop mountaintop removal for coal, which Conway opposes and Mongiardo supports, and it's pretty clear whom is the progressive in the primary.

So that's Kentucky.

In Ohio, Jennifer Brunner has already come out opposed to the surge of troops. I've not seen anything from her opponent, LG Lee Fisher. [edit., Lee Fisher does have a position, saying that 30,000 additional troops are not required.]

In Massachusetts, Martha Coakley joined Mike Capuano in opposition.

In Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter has stated he is opposed, and Joe Sestak is in favor, and its become a central defining issue between the two candidates.

In Illinois, one of the leading candidates, David Hoffman, has put out a statement saying: " I am skeptical that our mission in Afghanistan should be to spend years rebuilding the country with our armed forces at potentially great cost of American life."

These are all open primaries, where the candidates have their ears much closer to the ground of Democratic voters than those in DC  currently do. I expect that we will see plenty of primary opportunities develop against incumbents whom are in Democratic strongholds that go along with support of the surge.

Look, when your allies are Byron York ("Obama keeps his Afghan promise") and Sarah Palin ("I support President Obama's decision"), you're on the wrong side of the issue.

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PA-Sen: Joe Sestak, Ned Lamont, and Arlen Specter's Top Ten Worst Votes

The man who beat non-Democrat Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut urges you to stand with the man who will beat non-Democrat Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania.

Also, courtesy of The REAL Arlen Specter:

In his 45 years as a Republican, Arlen Specter cast thousands of votes for his party and against Democratic principles. In the last eight years, he voted more than 2,000 times with the Bush Republicans.  So when he claimed at Netroots Nation, "I'll stand behind my votes one by one," it makes one wonder, "Really, Arlen?"

It's hard to imagine any Democrat would stand behind voting for Bush's tax cuts for the richest of the rich or for Sarah Palin to be Vice-President of the United States, but the Real Arlen Specter is proud of his Republican credentials. ...

From the War in Iraq to the economic policies that created this savage recession, many of our current problems can be ascribed to one man: George W. Bush, who Specter voted for in 2000.  Given the chance to correct that vote and help put John Kerry in the White House, what did the Real Arlen Specter do?  Co-Chair Bush-Cheney '04 in Pennsylvania and vote for him a second time.

Now you can chose which one of these actions by the long-time Republican Senator is most egregious. Vote in our poll on this page and check back to see which vote was the worst of the worst. We will call on Arlen to stand behind the winner.

On the web:
-Joe Sestak, Democrat for Senate
-The REAL Arlen Specter
-Contribute to Joe Sestak via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page

For daily news and analysis on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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Sestak Fundraising Problems?

I may be reading this wrong, but did Joe Sestak only raise $48,351 in the third quarter?  

http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/dcdev/f orms/C00419291/436581/

I know this is more of a question, so once it gets answered I'll delete this.

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Diaries

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