SPECTER VS. SESTAK: The Thrilla In Pennsylvania


PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Pennsylvania voters go the polls Tuesday for a primary election that could determine more than who bears the Democratic and Republican standards in November. The results will measure Obama’s influence with voters, the credibility of party hierarchies, the fate of a Capitol’s worth of incumbents, and the mood of a key swing state. “What’s at stake is the message to Washington and the political direction of our country,” said Lara Brown, political science professor at Villanova University. “It could literally moderate all the policy in Washington.” MORE

DICK POLMAN: Two Capitol Hill insiders have been summarily dumped by their respective parties during the last eight days: 18-year Republican Sen. specter.thumbnail.jpgBob Bennett (who couldn’t even get renominated at his Utah party convention), and 28-year Democratic congressman Alan Mollohan (whose well-earned reputation for pumping pork into his West Virginia district failed to impress the primary voters). Anger is the emotion of choice in 2010, and career politicians make the best targets.Specter being Specter, his vulnerabilities are unique. He has logged 30 years in the Senate, 29 of them as a Republican – yet his fate now hinges on convincing millions of Pennsylvania Democrats (many of whom have consistently voted against him since 1980) that he’s really one of them. He hasn’t been able to close the sale, and all that Bush-Santorum-Palin footage aired by Sestak at the eleventh hour hasn’t made the job any easier. Indeed, there’s more footage in Sestak’s Internet ads, with Santorum lauding Specter for his yes votes on the original Bush tax cuts.

Joe Sestak is hardly a perfect Democratic alternative. His reputation as an extreme taskmaster is apparently well-earned, his support for an expanded war in Afghanistan has given some liberals pause, and he needlessly slowed his own progress several months ago when he claimed (before quickly clamming up) that the Obama White House had offered him a cushy federal job in exchange for his agreeing to quit the race. But the race is really a referendum on Specter, a career politician who has played so many sides of the fence that it’s virtually impossible to situate him. He has seemingly been everywhere, which arguably leaves him nowhere. MORE

sestak.thumbnail.jpgPA 2010: Hours away from their Senate primary showdown, Democrats Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter split over one big issue Sunday: whether they will back their opponent in November if they don’t prevail Tuesday. Speaking on “State of the Union” on CNN, Specter said he would “support anybody against [Republican] Pat Toomey.” But Sestak wouldn’t go that far even when pressed—a refusal he’s kept for months in meetings with party officials, much to their chagrin. “[I] never deal with something that’s not going to happen,” Sestak said. “We are going to win.” The state Democratic Party, which is backing Specter, quickly seized on Sestak’s remarks. MORE

PHILLY CLOUT: Another day, another poll showing the Democratic primary election race between U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is too close to call.  The Quinnipiac University Poll released today shows Sestak at 42 percent among likely voters in Tuesday’s primary and Specter at 41 percent, with 16 percent undecided.  One in four people in the poll said they might change their mind. MORE

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