Joe Sestak For Senate!

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 22:36

Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. eastern, as reported by a couple dozen news outlets, Representative Joe Sestak will be making a "major campaign announcement." The announcement will stream live at, which is also running live Twitter and Facebook updates from supporters. Please go to, sign up for email updates, and check it all out.

Since you are reading this on a blog, and given my role on the campaign, if you have any questions or concerns about the campaign, by all means email me at I will be happy to assist you in whatever way I can.

In a related announcement, I will be working on "netroots outreach" for the Sestak campaign. Primarily, I will serve as a liaison between the campaign and the netroots community, but also as a general consultant for new media. The Sestak campaign will not be paying me directly, and I will be receiving remittance from outside PACs. The first such PAC is the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which was designed to help progressive campaigns get over the top. This arrangement will allow me to keep writing on Open Left, where I intend to keep writing about the Pennsylvania Senate campaign, too.

As a Pennsylvania resident, I was very disappointed three months ago when the state and national party leadership decided to close ranks around a career politician who had only switched parties to save his job. Senator Specter has a career lifetime crucial vote score of only 27% according to Progressive Punch, and was a top target for defeat in 2010 before his switch. Despite this, we Pennsylvania Democrats were supposed to accept him as our nominee without even being given a choice. Nice. Considering that primary campaigns have consistently proven to be the best means available for the progressive grassroots to push the Democratic Party to the left, this attempt to close down the primary was particularly top-down.

Among prominent Pennsylvania Democrats, only Representative Joe Sestak has demonstrated a willingness to challenge the Democratic establishment on their choice of Arlen Specter. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that. Also, having met him on multiple occasions, Representative Sestak is the most hardworking and dedicated campaigner I have ever met. For example, his congressional office handles more than three times as many constituent case files--10,000--than the average member of Congress. Further, not only is Representative Sestak much more progressive than Arlen Specter, as Nate Silver has recently shown, his potential primary challenge has pushed Specter into the Democratic camp on 97% of all votes, up from only 16% of the time in the month before Specter's switch. This campaign has already demonstrated real results.

You can contribute to both Joe Sestak, and the PCCC, on the Better Democrats 2010 page. Just as importantly, go to, sign up for email updates, and watch the announcement tomorrow morning. This is a campaign where you can make a real difference, both now and over the long-term. How many other campaigns can prove that? Sign up today!

Chris Bowers :: Joe Sestak For Senate!

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Sestak is a DLCer. (4.00 / 1)
Why would anyone on the left, progressive, side of the political spectrum vote for and support ANY "New Dem" instead of working against them?

Here is one obvious reason (4.00 / 3)
Of all the things we have tried to do influence members of Congress to do the right thing, only primary challenges have consistently proven effective. None have proven more effective than this campaign:

You might ask why someone would call any members of Congress, or attend a protest, or write a letter to the editor, or really even vote. We do these things to try and make a difference. Right now, there are few, if any, political actions one can take that will demonstrably make more of a difference than supporting Joe Sestak.

Call him whatever you want. His campaign has proven effective in changing votes. Virtually nothing else has done that.

[ Parent ]
I don't equate "DP loyalty" with "progressive"... (0.00 / 0)
...given the DP's record on giveaways to Wall Street, betrayal of labor, war, expanding military and police state  spending, executive authority, NAFTA and its hideous spawn, deregulation, privatization, corporate welfare, and on and on.  

[ Parent ]
wow. (4.00 / 1)
that's a damn powerful graph you got there, Chris. i'm sold.

what's the complaint about Sestak? i haven't really paid too much attention to PA politics, i confess. he's a member of the DLC? ok, that's not so good. but his voting record, people mostly approve of that? where did he let progressives down?  

[ Parent ]
Ummmm...that's a reason to be glad Sestak is running, but to WORK for him? (0.00 / 0)
I'm amazed that someone WORKING for the Sestak campaign would make that argument.  It essentially says, "Specter is fine, as long as we keep him on his toes."

For my money, both Specter and Sestak have a lot to prove before they will go in my book as "great Dems."

If running Sestak is basically creating a bogeyman to make Specter's blue bars go/stay higher, couldn't we at least find a more righteously scary bogeyman?

[ Parent ]
So given the choices .. (0.00 / 0)
you'd rather have Snarlin' Arlen?  ... is Sestak Bernie Sanders or Paul Wellstone?  Far from it ... but given the situation presented to us(as compared to a pie in the sky wish) ... I'll take Sestak any day .. and yes .. I intended to volunteer as much as I can

[ Parent ]
I don't buy the "lesser-evil" scam -- (0.00 / 0)
-- because it guarantees the continuing anti-progressive, rightward drift of the DP. I won't waste my vote -- I'd rather vote for what I want, and not get it, than vote for what I DON'T want, and get it.

[ Parent ]
Do you live in PA? ... (0.00 / 0)
if so ... who do you plan to vote for in the primary? .. do you plan on writing in a name? ... if so .. why? .. when only one of two people are going to win .. do I like it? .. no ... but that is the situation we are giving

[ Parent ]
I get your point (0.00 / 0)
but, what are the other options? Is there a viable alternative party in PA? Can they put up a candidate that will be able to effectively compete against the M$P candidates?

I agree. Our two party system is frustratingly restrictive and the M$Ps have figured out how to play "keep away" with political power. They toss it back and forth between themselves, and keep it out of alternative hands.

Unfortunately, the system has so seriously side-lined anyone that is not a member of an M$P that your voting boycott (and I assume contribution boycott) is one of the few routes left open for you to express your intent as a citizen. If that's the route you choose - stay strong, but take a moment to consider working on mechanisms to break the two party tyranny.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
"...viable..." (4.00 / 1)
To me, "viable" doesn't equate to "instant gratification." Nor does it justify supporting politics I abhor, or supporting the 65-plus-year movement of the DP to the right.

As to "boycott," I've voted in every election -- local, state, federal -- starting in 1968, including write-ins when no progressives appeared on the ballot. I've also donated to candidates, both time and money, even including a few Dems (I even once voted for a Dem for prez in the general election -- 1972).

"...take a moment to consider working on mechanisms to break the two party tyranny."

That's been one of my issues for over 40 yrs, but I also recognize that almost any small party can be co-opted by money -- witness the 2004 Greens becoming a pro-DLC adjunct to more-better-war Kerry and the DP, via their "safe-states strategy."

The underlying issue is the execrable money-equals-speech principle. Until campaigns are publicly financed, and "contributions" are called what they really are -- bribery -- and prosecuted as such, there's very little chance of any real progressive change via the ballot box.

One of my heroes, Emma Goldman, said if voting could change anything, it would be illegal. She may have been right...hence my dedication to direct action (including organizing, preparation, training, etc) as my primary political activity, and the most effective means of fighting tyranny, in any form.  

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
Sorry, I used the word "boycott". Caught up in my own rhetoric. I consider voting write-in to be a kind of boycott. Used to say "protest vote", but "boycott" has more resonance.

You know, until it became a bit threadbare and slightly too tight, I used to make a point of wearing a T-shirt with that very E. Goldman quote printed on it every election day.

My only problem with publically funded elections is that I don't want to fund 2 year long campaigns (or longer). I see no reason why a presidential campaigh should be much longer than 4-6 months.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
"I see no reason why a presidential campaign [or any other election campaign] should be much longer than 4-6 months." (4.00 / 1)

Hear, hear!

I'd argue for 3 months, but being such a moderate, reasonable kinda guy, I'd compromise to 4. Six months would amount to too much of a subsidy for the corporate media (advertising revenue).

[ Parent ]
Here we go again. (4.00 / 1)
Please, list the votes that Sestak has been bad on.  Cite quotations he's made, with links, that have been bad.  I keep hearing how DLCish and non progressive this guy is but when I comb through his progressive punch scores or listen to what he's saying I'm not seeing any evidence of it, and the people that seem to be constantly spouting that never provide any concrete examples.  They just say "He's not progressive!" and leave it at that.  I get that he's no Dennis Kucinich, but he still seems to have a record that's pretty progressive.

Check out Blue Arkansas:

[ Parent ]
the main beefs (4.00 / 3)
are that he voted for the FISA bill after lots of pressure from all of us not to; he got elected to bring the troops home-his goal-asap and has continually voted for supplementals without deadlines. He voted for the bailouts.

Other than that, he's voted for the stimulus and wanted a bigger one from the get go; He's pro-choice and has been vocal on the repeal of DADT since he first ran; His votes on health care amendments so far are good and is working for a good public option but won't take the FDL pledge (only 14 so far have).

I would not call him a DLCer. He worked in the Clinton admin. so he backed Hillary but then when Obama got the nod he worked just as hard for him. He's in the new dem caucus but in truth he's his own guy.

[ Parent ]
surrounded by Alabama (0.00 / 0)
that's true almost everywhere. Big cities go Democratic and the rural areas go Republican. Not really a PA-only phenomenon. The way you draw districts for state legislatures often leads to over-representation for those geographically large rural areas. Makes not just PA but most states seem more "conservative" than they are... But Sestak is running statewide and the best/most recent we measure we have for how Democratic PA is is Dem. + 11. Or, if you want to compare it to the U.S. it would be +4 (11 - Obama's 7-point margin natioally). Pretty blue really. All those big-city voters count just as much as the geographically spread out rural voters.

[ Parent ]
"I would not call him a DLCer." (4.00 / 1)
He joined the "New Democrat Coalition" in the House, the DLC's organ, immediately upon taking his seat. He's been supportive of hardcore neoliberal "free" trade deals, expanding the military, escalating Obama's wars, expanding the police state, and unsupportive of single-payer.

"...he's his own guy."

When has he taken a progressive position opposed to that of the DLC?  

[ Parent ]
About Joe (4.00 / 4)
No, he's not a progressive. But I like Joe even though we've had some substantial disagreements on a couple of issues. He actually takes the time to listen to you and have a conversation.

He has a rep for going through staffers. He works them hard, yes, and he works as hard or harder than they do. He's got a smart good guy working on health care issues who came from a pro-choice org. something that he doesn't  flaunt but his votes are good despite his faithfulness to his Catholic church.

And I've learned since moving to PA and into Joe's district, that he's probably as progressive a candidate as we are likely to get. PA is not by any stretch a liberal state.

So the choice is between Snarlin' Arlen or the Admiral. I'll work for Joe knowing his flaws and all. For me there's no contest. I worked for Ned Lamont against Joe LIEberman at a time when most dems were clueless about what a sh*t Joe is. We don't need for Arlen to become part of Joe LIE's caucus which is what he certainly would should he actually get elected as a dem.

why isn't PA a liberal state in 2009? (4.00 / 1)
Obama beat McCain there by 11 percent. That's a 50% better margin than Obama had nationally.  And that was after the McCain campaign bet everything  on PA and put both candidates there for the final week. Probably would have been a wider margin otherwise.

PA is solid blue already. That said I favor Sestak over Specter. And if Senator Sestak votes too centrist we'll back his replacement in 2016.

[ Parent ]
liberal? (4.00 / 1)
Obama v. McCain isn't the measure. I live in Chester County which hasn't quite crossed over the line to majority dem registration. Obama won because of huge turnouts in Philly and Pittsburgh with reasonable support in the suburbs. Still the description of PA as Philly and Pittsburgh surrounded by Alabama isn't that far off the mark. The state may not be bat sh*t crazy (to vote for McCain and Palin) but it still isn't liberal. They like their moderates. They like their blue dogs.

We've got Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady (whoever he is-never hear a whisper about him) in the CPC. That's it. The state house has a slight dem majority by 4 votes and the state senate is overwhelmingly rethug. Dream all you want but Joe is most likely as good as we'll get.

[ Parent ]
surrounded by Alabama (0.00 / 0)
that's true almost everywhere. Big cities go Democratic and the rural areas go Republican. Not really a PA-only phenomenon. The way you draw districts for state legislatures often leads to over-representation for those geographically large rural areas. Makes not just PA but most states seem more "conservative" than they are... But Sestak is running statewide and the best/most recent we measure we have for how Democratic PA is is Dem. + 11. Or, if you want to compare it to the U.S. it would be +4 (11 - Obama's 7-point margin natioally). Pretty blue really. All those big-city voters count just as much as the geographically spread out rural voters.

[ Parent ]
but (0.00 / 0)
there was a VERY motivated black population for Obama in the general. I don't see how we get those kinds of numbers to show up in a primary between 2 white guys. And Specter has managed to get himself elected over and over again. I don't think it will work for him this time though.

Likely that either would beat Toomey but I like my chances with Sestak lots better-Toomy almost beat Snarlin' in his last primary . . .

The 08 election was a choice between a grumpy old guy teamed with a nitwit v. a smart young black guy teamed with an almost local pol. That's why it went as dem as it did. But look at the local races and numbers-not so dem.

Anyway, I've got to support Joe. At least you know where he stands-he tells you so-and the political calculus he uses at least seems more honest. Arlen does whatever he damn well pleases. He's entitled, dontcha know!

[ Parent ]
Chris .. (4.00 / 1)
does that mean you'll have to take a break? .. or will you still be allowed to write here?

I will still be here (4.00 / 2)
The agreement covers that. And I tend not to be much of a bomb-thrower, anyway.

[ Parent ]
well there the (4.00 / 1)
google bombs...

[ Parent ]
This is great news, but not our only contested primary we need to get to work in. (4.00 / 2)
In Kentucky there's a pretty clear choice between a guy who's going to take it to the Republicans and a gay basher that will do the work of the coal barons.  In Ohio there's a dynamic progressive leader running against a machine candidate that doesn't want to commit on tough issues like gay rights and card check.  I'm glad Sestak is getting this going, but in my opinion it would nice to see a little more support for Conway and Brunner on the front page.  They're both better Democrats in tough races that could use our help.

Check out Blue Arkansas:

Very excited! (0.00 / 0)
It's not only phenomenal news that Sestak is launching his campaign, but I am truly excited that Chris is playing such an integral role!

Congratulations Chris, and thank you for your leadership on this. I'm looking forward to hearing more and doing whatever I can to investigate for myself how I can help this campaign.

Beyond Iraq: A Time to Break Silence

Good on ya both (0.00 / 0)
Thanks Chris, and thank you to Congressman and Admiral Joe for stepping forward on this.

Now, if only Diana DeGette or Ed Perlmutter were as courageous out in Colorado ...


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