JOE SESTAK: “I respect the man, but it is time. It is time for a different generation.”
9:47 PM: Sestak is currently up by 13,000 with 42% of the vote counted. Reportedly two thirds of the Philadelphia vote has already been counted. Specter’s only hope was the African American vote and it appears that he didn’t get it, or at least not enough of it to make a difference. Because this is the Internet, where being first trumps being right, we are going out on a limb here and declaring Joe Sestak the winner.
10:12 PM: Associated Press just called the race for Sestak.
PREVIOUSLY: SPECTER VS. SESTAK: The Thrilla In Pennsylvania
EJ DIONNE: Joe Sestak won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania by putting together Barack Obama’s 2008 primary vote with Hillary Clinton’s. Incumbent Arlen Specter was confined to his base in Philadelphia, and Philly couldn’t give him nearly the margin he needed. To get a sense of Sestak’s sweep, consider that he carried all but three of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. He carried Obama strongholds – he got 63 percent in Lancaster County, for example – but also swept through smaller counties in the central and western parts of the state that had supported Clinton. Sestak put together a kind of left-right coalition. Philadelphia was the one part of Obama’s old coalition that the president’s endorsement (along with that of Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter) helped deliver for Specter. The Republican-turned-Democrat won 64 percent of the vote in Philly, but Sestak was winning 57 percent of the vote in the rest of the state – and that number might rise when all the votes are counted. MORE
RELATED: Gov. Ed Rendell, speaking at Sen. Arlen Specter’s Center City campaign party moments after the Pennsylvania polls closed, seemed saddened by his long-time friend’s prospects amid reports of lackluster turnout on a dreary, wet and cold primary Election Day. “Everything I asked him to do for Philadelphia, he did,” said Rendell, who noted that when he was the city’s mayor, the then-Republican Specter didn’t receive more than 30% of the city’s vote. “It didn’t matter that we were a Democratic city. And I think that ought to mean a lot to people. If he loses, yeah, I’ll be a little ticked off because people didn’t recognize that. It’s a rare gift. Arlen Specter delivered like no one else ever has, and if we lose him, shame on us.” MORE
WASHINGTON POST: His campaign blamed the defeat on the fervent anti-incumbent mood that is sweeping the country, in both parties, as demonstrated by the defeat this month of three-term Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) at his party’s nominating convention and last week’s primary defeat of veteran Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W. Va.). “It’s everywhere,” Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa.), Specter’s longtime friend and close political adviser, said after Specter’s concession speech. Rendell said that the opponent did not matter, and that the only thing Sestak did right was picking a “great ad” company, a reference to the Sestak consultants who previously worked for Rendell. MORE
INQUIRER: Something seems off-kilter in Philadelphia, as if a crane had taken the statue of Billy Penn from its place atop City Hall. After five decades as a towering figure in the public life of his city, state, and nation, Sen. Arlen Specter is in the strange position of counting the days until the likely end of his political career. Specter, 80, famous as an electoral Houdini, finally found himself in a tight spot he could not escape – standing for election in a year of voter hostility to Washington incumbents. Not even his surprise switch in parties 13 months ago could save him. MORE
DAILY NEWS: And, sure, the 80-year-old, 30-year-incumbent Specter is the latest victim of “out with the old/in with the new.” But this race wasn’t like the others. This one was unique in that Specter switched his party 13 months ago. This one was more about a person than a party or a president. While other states have open primaries, only Democrats here could vote for Sestak. And Democratic-primary voters tend to be more liberal than the whole of the Democratic bloc, and Sestak is more liberal than Specter. Few voters, if any, voted for Sestak yesterday because they’re angry with Obama or Democratic policies, both of which Sestak supports. The game didn’t change here, Specter did. Not in style or even much in ideology, but in perception. MORE
RELATED: It is difficult to believe the Warren Commission Report is the truth. Arlen Specter knows it. It is difficult to believe that “all the shots which caused the President’s and Governor Connally’s wounds were fired from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.” Arlen Specter knows it. It is difficult to believe that “the same bullet which pierced the President’s throat also caused Governor Connally’s wounds.” Arlen Specter knows it. It is difficult to believe that the “weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired” and that the Commission “found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination” and that any evidence which would indicate the possibility of others being involved with Oswald “has not come to the attention” of the Commission. Arlen Specter knows it is difficult to believe some of the fundamental conclusions of the Warren Commission Report. MORE
MSNBC: Republican Tim Burns has conceded to Democrat Mark Critz in the special election to fill the late Jack Murtha’s (D) congressional seat in Pennsylvania. The AP still hasn’t called the race, however. With Critz’s apparent victory, this becomes the SEVENTH-straight competitive special House contest that Democrats have won and the GOP has lost since 2008. And as we pointed out in First Read this morning, this GOP loss — in this environment — raises REAL questions about the Republican Party’s ability to take back in the House in November. Why? If the GOP couldn’t win here — the only congressional seat that John Kerry won in ’04 but Obama lost in ’08 — it’s not going to have an easy time netting the 40 House seats in November it needs to retake the House. MORE
THE ATLANTIC: The truth of the matter is that every race is special, just like every child, and so you cannot extrapolate too much from one example of anything. But more than any electoral contest to date, the special election to fill John Murtha’s seat will tell us something about the basic physical structure of the election. Republicans should win this seat. The candidates’ philosophies could not be more distinct, and their messages be any more clear. If Tim Burns wins by a good margin — about five points — it will be a manifestation of the enthusiasm gap that shows itself in the polls. If the race is very close, or if Democrat Mark Critz wins, then the assumptions that the political class is using to predict the future might need revising. Maybe Republicans aren’t as enthusiastic as they say they are. Maybe the minute but noticeable rise in Obama’s national approval ratings is helping Democrats build a beachhead. MORE
ALSO: Philadelphians voted in convincing fashion Tuesday to abolish the 156-year-old Board of Revision of Taxes, eliminating a relic of the city’s distant past that has come to embody much of the worst of city government. By a more than 7-3 ratio, voters approved a charter change replacing the troubled property-assessment and appeals agency with two new city offices later this year. “This is a very important moment in Philadelphia’s history. We’ve dissolved an entity that is a throwback to the 1800s, an entity that needed to be put out of business so that we can move forward with the hard work of reform,” Mayor Nutter said. The vote deciding the BRT’s fate came a year after an Inquirer investigation exposed widespread mismanagement, cronyism, and backroom deal-making at the obscure agency, whose decisions directly affect the pocketbook of every property owner in Philadelphia. MORE
ALSO: The PPA is a redoubt for longtime city party leader Michael Meehan [pictured, right] , who has been fighting hard to stave off an attack from Republicans associated with Pennsylvania GOP leader Rob Gleason. Meehan’s foes say he has been an inept leader, satisfied with his patronage hold at the Parking Authority and other lesser fiefdoms, plums he gets in return for not challenging the Democrats. Meehan counters that the Democrats’ 6-1 registration advantage makes Republican organizing in the city a mostly pointless enterprise. He did not return a call seeking comment for this article. Interviews and an examination of public records show that the Parking Authority is humming away on Meehan’s behalf. Its workforce is providing the signatures, notaries, and in some cases even the candidates. In the race to support hundreds of committee candidates, Meehan’s forces have been marred by allegations of fraud. His foes documented multiple examples of forged signatures, including one from a dead woman, during legal challenges by Meehan aimed at keeping his challengers off the ballot. The District Attorney’s Office is investigating those allegations. MORE