Joe Sestak

Pat Toomey's Extremism

by: mblue

Mon Oct 25, 2010 at 15:20

Last week, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey said that his opponent, Joe Sestak, is an "extreme candidate."

People For the American Way put together a video of some other things Toomey has said.

So, who's the extremist?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Fighting For the Middle Class and Against Big Money Special Interests

by: Mike Lux

Tue Sep 28, 2010 at 18:00

This progressive populist message that I have been writing about in recent weeks that seriously moves the dial for Democrats in Stan Greenberg's polling is being used by more and more candidates. Here's three exciting examples:

1. A growing group of members of Congress are going to be on the Hill tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM EST doing a press conference to push a strong reform agenda on behalf of the middle class. They will be endorsing the 3-point platform- strong lobbying reform, public financing of elections, and overturning Citizens United- that MoveOn members overwhelmingly supported in their voting, that 506,832 have already endorsed with their signatures, that 14 groups have signed on to, and that 201 members of Congress and candidates have already signed up for. Confirmed speakers at the press conference include the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva, the head of the Populist Caucus Bruce Braley, Rep. Chris Murphy, Rep. Paul Hodes, Rep. Paul Tonko, and Rep. Keith Ellison, and more are adding their names as we get closer to the event.

2. Check out this ad from Joe Sestak, attacking all the big corporate money being dumped in his race, and the motives of those spending the money.

3. Finally, check out this great new ad from Tommy Sowers. This is my favorite ad in the campaign so far. It definitely smells of country populism.

The great thing about these ads is that they go directly to the heart of what is going on this campaign cycle: because of the Citizens United decision, and because they don't like being challenged in any way by even modest reform measures like the Wall Street reform bill, Wall Street, Big Oil, the big health insurers, and the Chamber of Commerce have been on the rampage, dumping tens of millions of dollars like it was going out of style into these campaigns, trying to buy the elections. The only way Democrats have a chance is to stand tall and call them out, to fight directly against them and the economic sins that have destroyed this country's economy.

Discuss :: (48 Comments)

Lead like Winners

by: Arshad Hasan

Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 15:00

We have had a quite a reaction to our email this week, "Democrats: Epic Fail." Here are some of the emails from our members. About 25 to 1 positive responses, like this:

"I hope EVERY right-wing, corporatist Democrat in Congress loses. Since they're really Republicans, at least then we'll know where we stand and what we need to do to get REAL Democrats elected."

"Our so called 60 seat majority in the Senate was an ILLUSION. At least 4 and up to 15 Senators are FAKE democrats."

"I agree with you completely but if we lose the House I will slit my darn wrists if gd Boehner is Speaker, I'll definitely leave thus country and that I'm 100% serious about. ... What you're planning is something I totally agree with and will help any way I can. ...I'm active in working toward an end that will keep Progressives, strong and hardcore Progressives that will not step away from bills we need and helping those that require it."

But some critiques, as well, like this:

"If Blanche Lincoln loses to a Republican, we've shot ourselves in the foot.  We can congratulate ourselves on overthrowing a Wall Street Democrat, but what we're stuck with is a Wall Street Family values Republican. Yippee.  Instead of someone who might be moved by our voices, we get someone who turns a deaf ear. Again I say, Yippee."

"Bless you for all your hard work, but this country is broken.  The money continues to win big time, bigger every day. The middle class should pack up and leave, but there's not place to go."

"I can't agree with you, I'm afraid.  I, too, MUCH prefer progressive Democrats.  But, even if we can't always count on the vote of the Blanche Lincolns of the world, we need every Democrat we can possibly elect -- and she's the only one running in that election."

"Well, I love progressives too. I am one. But you're messing around with peoples' lives . . . If republicans win they will absolutely repeal health care reform. They don't plan to pay one more tax dollar for 'the likes of you and me.'"

There have also been a few blog posts that run the gamut:

Happy Nappy Head says,

"I'm seriously doing the research into contributing to some of these folks backed by the website, because I completely agree. Maybe we need to shake some shit up... Whatever the case, it's clear that the agenda in Washington right now is simple. It's "M.O.B.= Money Over Bitches."

While, Karoli of Odd Time Signatures disagrees,

"From a purely political standpoint, one does not send a fundraising notice out to members based upon a REPUBLICAN failure and call it a failure on the part of Democrats. At least, not if one expects to maintain a coalition that will win and move toward progress."

We listen to our members and we pay close attention the the netroots. But here, I respectfully disagree with Karoli and our other critics, for this reason: (after the break)

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 833 words in story)

Chicken Hawk Neocons Target Vice Admiral Joe Sestak

by: shergald

Sun Jul 18, 2010 at 11:10

( - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

....Democratic candidate for the Senate from Pennsylvania (Specter's seat).

Whether you call it the Israel Lobby or AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) or the Neocons, there's no question that as a result of Sestak's past criticisms of Israel, they are now an albatross around his neck. Check out this political ad paid for by a new (old) group of Washington pro-Israel Neocons just resurrected as the The Emergency Committee for Israel. If you ask whether Sestak is in the process of being AIPAC'ed just as Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) was several years ago, this time with the Neocons leading the way, it turns out to be a silly question. Of course. Watch the attack video just released by this Neocon group:

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 439 words in story)

Enthusiasm gap only factor keeping Toomey in Pennsylvania Senate campaign

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Jun 22, 2010 at 14:09

Public Policy Polling has a new survey out on the Pennsylvania Senate campaign between Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak.  The poll shows the campaign knotted up at 415 for each candidate.

First, and less interestingly, this poll shows the White House job "scandal" has had no negative impact on Sestak.  The Admiral up 6% on Toomey from the previous PPP poll of Pennsylvania.  It was never clear what type of voter pays close enough attention to political news to not only have actually heard about the "scandal," but also to think less of Sestak because of it.  The way the political media acted as though the American public were all neophyte, wide-eyed children about politics on this story was embarrassing.

Second, and more interestingly, this poll suggests that the only reason Toomey is in this campaign at all is because of a massive enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans.  According to the poll, Sestak is holding Obama voters just as well as Toomey is holding McCain voters, but McCain voters actually outnumber Obama voters in Pennsylvania by 1%.  This is even though Obama won the state by over 10%:

This race is a vintage example of where the enthusiasm gap is giving Democrats problems. Sestak is winning 74% of the vote from people who supported Barack Obama in 2008. That's actually a tad higher than the 73% Toomey is getting from McCain voters. This is not a race where the Democratic candidate is struggling because folks who voted for Obama last election are supporting the GOP in droves. But the poll's respondents went for John McCain by a point in 2008 when Barack Obama actually took the state by 10. The only reason Sestak's not ahead in this race is that Republican voters are much more motivated to go out and vote in the fall than Democrats are.

Now, this is just one poll result, so it should not be taken as an article of faith.  There is no doubt voter turnout patterns mean Democrats face a more difficult electorate in 2010 than they did in 2008, but for there to be a 10% swing due entirely to voter enthusiasm seems quite extreme.  There will be at least a 2-3% swing due to age differences in the Democratic and Republican coalitions, but 10% would be mind-blowing.

Also, before people chime in with claims that a 10% swing is actually entirely understandable given how terribly disappointed and upset the base is with Obama, keep in mind this finding from PPP last month:

On our last national poll among the people who said they were only 'somewhat excited' about voting or 'not very excited' about voting Obama's approval was a 58/35 spread, much better than his overall numbers. Those folks also said they supported the health care bill by a 50/38 margin, again much better than we're seeing among all voters.

There is no singular explanation for the voter turnout problem Democrats face in the fall.  Undoubtedly, there are a decent number of ideologically left voters, who usually break Democratic, who feel frustrated enough with the lack of progressive accomplishments by the Obama administration that they will not be active this cycle.  However, available polling does not support that thesis as the majority cause for struggles in voter turnout.

The majority of unlikely voters approve of the health care bill and of President Obama.  As such, the primary motivating factor in the lack of engagement among unlikely voters is not disgust with the administration or its accomplishments.  The former fact disproves the latter thesis.  There are certainly some progressives who have dropped out of voting or electoral activism, or who have perhaps even shifted their efforts to third-party candidates, but they are not the majority of 2008 Obama voters who are unlikely to vote this time around.  And this PPP poll is not the first poll offering such evidence, either.

Democrats face a real voter turnout problem.  However, its exact size, and exact causes, remains relatively unexplored by public pollsters.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

by: Levana Layendecker

Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 17:05

After reading Christina Bellatoni's piece in TPM "Operation Fix The Campaign: How National Parties Help Unlikely Winners," I was confused. Do national parties need to "fix" campaigns that won? I'm no expert, but shouldn't they learn from campaigns that won? It seems to me, as a candidate, if you can beat someone who outspent you by millions with the hard work and dedication of volunteers, close friends, and family who were so inspired by you and your message that they gave up weeks and months of their time, maybe you've got a good thing going there. To me, this is like trying to sell David a RPG after he killed Goliath with his sling shot. Newsflash: The sling shot worked and you were rooting for Goliath.

Bellatoni points out that, "In such a critical election cycle where the Republicans are attempting to win back control of Congress, there's no way either party would leave a campaign up to chance." Yes, that is true. So, then why would national party committees continue to completely ignore all of the people on the ground who could help win elections. I am talking about the actual Democrats who proudly proclaim to their party affiliation and then proceed to knock on doors, make calls, and show up to vote over and over again. When those folks get their say at the polls in a Primary, then they are your best allies in the general - provided the same candidate is still running in the general election.

It looks like the DSCC has some sense of the need for the candidates to remain consistent with what got them there:

Asked specifically about Sestak, Menendez (D-NJ), said the party isn't installing people with a "cookie cutter" approach, and wants candidates to maintain their independence.

However, there is no mention of the voters, supporters, or the people who put them there. In fact, the whole article points to how the parties are encouraging campaigns to jettison people who worked for free. Really? Aren't those your most dedicated folks?

The media often characterize grassroots groups like DFA, MoveOn, or PCCC as outsiders coming in to a state to stir people up. But, as Democrats in the states know, we actually give support to Democrats on the ground who understand their states and districts and want to elect candidates who stand for something. We are simply providing some resources to the activists who care the most and who make things happen. It's amazing what they can do when they are empowered to make their own decisions. The national party could just as easily do the same.

I don't disagree that campaigns "need structure," but what campaigns don't need is DC operatives putting out the fire in the belly that got them there in the first place. Let's hope that is not the DSCC plan. Listen to the Democratic voters in the states and build your campaigns around them-they are the ones who will turn out in a midterm if you give them a reason.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Wave of Primaries: Massachusetts' 9th is Next

by: cos

Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 21:40

Shortly before Congress voted on health care reform, I posted here highlighting Bill Halter's challenge to Blanche Lincoln part of a pattern of primary challenges in Democratic primaries this year.

Now, the pattern shows signs of turning into a progressive wave, with Joe Sestak's win in the Pennsylvania US Senate primary, the results that day in Kentucky, and leading to the runoff between Halter and Lincoln coming up this Tuesday.

On of the most notorious yes-to-no vote switchers on health care was Massachusetts' Stephen Lynch.  Although the woman who was publically mulling a run against him at the time decided against it, it was clear that there would be a challenger, and there is: Mac D'Alessandro.

A recent poll shows Lynch is vulnerable:

Barely a third of likely Democratic primary voters in his district say that Steve Lynch deserves re-election, according to April poll numbers obtained by the Boston Phoenix.

Lynch, a relatively conservative Democrat, has been criticized by some liberals for voting against the final health care reform bill earlier this year. In the past, he has also received criticism for his positions on social issues like abortion, and for his vote to authorize the war in Iraq.

However, he has never had difficulty winning re-election. This year, he is being challenged in the primary by Mac D'Alessandro, northeast political director for the Service Employee International Union (SEIU).

I recently met Mac, and my latent frustration with Stephen Lync quickly gave way to a real excitement that this man may go to Congress.  I believe he could be one of the best members of Congress we'll have.

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Afternoon campaign roundup

by: Chris Bowers

Thu May 20, 2010 at 16:30

A few items of note on 2010 federal campaigns:

  • KY-Sen: Rand Paul flips on discrimination in private hiring: A spokesperson for Rand Paul has confirmed to Greg Sargent that Paul thinks the federal government should ban private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race in their hiring practices.  This is the exact opposite of what Paul has stated in the past, not what he has said in the past, and just last night he said that the federal government did not have the right to prevent private businesses from refusing to serve people on the basis of race.  So much for Rand Paul at least being principled.

    Meanwhile, Rasmussen shows Rand Paul ahead by 25%.  Their polling in Kentucky has been particularly henke, to the tune of a 14% house effect so far this year.  Non-Rasmussen polling in Kentucky current shows Paul ahead by only 1%

  • NV-Sen: Angle takes the lead among Republicans: A new poll shows wingnut fave Sharron Angle ahead in the Republican primary for Nevada Senate.   Tomorrow, a Rasmussen poll will show her beating Harry Reid by 22 points in the general election.

  • PA-Sen: Sestak takes the lead: The first post-primary poll in Pennsylvania shows Joe Sestak ahead of Pat Toomey, 46%-42%.  And its from Rasmussen.  Don't get too excited though, because next week Rasmussen will show Toomey ahead by 18%.

  • NC-Sen: Ken Lewis endorse Elaine Marshall: Ken Lewis, who finished in third-place in the May 4th Democratic primary, has endorsed Elaine Marshall in the June 22nd run-off.  Visit Elaine Marshall's website, and help out a progressive leader.
Also, according to Rasmussen polling, you trail your Republican neighbor by 37%, even though you have higher name ID in the neighborhood.  Other polls show it to be a toss-up.  Discuss.
Discuss :: (21 Comments)

Tomorrow's Primaries Could Chart Destiny for 2010

by: paulhogarth

Mon May 17, 2010 at 10:45

In 2006, Democrats took back control of Congress because of public outrage at George Bush and the War in Iraq.  But we should remember it almost didn't happen - until August, when Ned Lamont proved that Democrats can galvanize that energy to beat an incumbent Senator in a primary.  Tomorrow, Pennsylvania Democrats will be asked to dump ex-Republican Arlen Specter - and in Arkansas, conservative Senator Blanche Lincoln also faces a primary challenge.  And just like Joe Lieberman, the Party establishment is circling the wagons in both states - with President Obama shooting a radio ad that claims Lincoln "took on big insurance companies" to pass health care.  A new poll shows that voters prefer Democrats over Republicans, which suggests that 2010 may not be the nightmare everyone fears.  But it also showed that voters hate incumbents.  If Democrats want to avoid a bloodbath in November, Specter and Lincoln must be defeated.
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Sestak in position to win, become first Democrat to defeat Obama-backed incumbent in primary

by: Chris Bowers

Mon May 17, 2010 at 10:11


The final Quinnipiac poll of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary shows Jose Sestak leading Arlen Specter by a single point.  While a one point lead is far from a blowout or a sure thing, what is significant about this poll is that there are now exactly zero polling firms showing Arlen Specter ahead.  Here are the final polls from the six pollsters to conducts surveys of this campaign in May:

Final polls, Pennsylvania Senate primary, May
Pollster End Date Sestak Specter
Quinnipiac May 16 42 41
Muhlenberg May 15 44 44
Research 2000 May 12 45 43
Suffolk May 12 49 40
F & M May 9 38 36
Rasmussen May 6 47 42
Across these six polls, Sestak leads by 3.2% on the mean, and 2% on the median.  The 15-day average I use for other forecasts shows Sestak up 2.6%.

None of those leads make Sestak anywhere close to a sure thing.  However, Specter is only competitive in this primary due to his ongoing advantage in name ID, an advantage which averages 20% across five of these six polls (excluding F & M).  That means Specter still has a big advantage among low information voters (who have still never heard of Sestak), and as such will need high Democratic turnout to win (since these low-information voters are less likely to vote).  With Democratic turnout sharply down in primaries do far this year, that ain't too bloody likely.

I expect Sestak to win as this point, and to become the first Democrat to defeat an incumbent backed by Obama in a primary.  Admittedly, Specter's party switch made this campaign far more winnable than any of the other primary or legislative campaigns when progressives staked out a position to the left of the administration, so it may not really be a breakthrough moment yet.  From the very beginning of the campaign, Sestak was always ahead among Pennsylvania Democrats who had heard of both candidate, and he held a 2-1 lead among Pennsylvania Democrats who thought Arlen Specter switched parties to win re-election.  In the environment, Sestak did exactly what he had to do to win: run a grueling slog of retail politics and fundraising to gather up just enough ground supporters and resources in order to raise his name ID and run ads of Specter saying he switched parties to win re-election.  It wasn't easy to do that with the entire Democratic establishment working against him, but on the eve of the primary it seems likely that he has pulled it off.

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Why we primary: to de-incentivize, conservative, corporate behavior among elected Democrats

by: Chris Bowers

Fri May 14, 2010 at 15:00

( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

In their endorsement of Joe Sestak today, MoveOn came close to summing up what a victory in Tuesday's primary would mean:

Joe Sestak has a strong record in Congress, supporting health care reform, clean energy, and a woman's right to choose. If he wins the primary on Tuesday, it'll send a powerful message that voters want Democrats in Congress who'll proudly lead the fight for progressive legislation.

Yeah, that's pretty much it.  Let me offer a slight re-phrasing, however.  The reason progressives need to keep engaging in progressive primary challenges against Democrats-pretty much wherever and whenever they are available--is to provide a counterweight to the massive amount of incentives elected Democrats have to engage in conservative and / or pro-corporate behavior.

Let's review what those incentives are, quoting at length from a snarky post I wrote last year, (but hey, just because you are joking doesn't mean you aren't serious), "BREAKING: I am now a conservative Democrat."

After several years of trying to "retake" the Democratic Party and make it more progressive, today I am giving up and becoming a conservative Democrat. Upon careful consideration, the benefits packages are simply too heavily tilted toward the corporate wing of the party. Check it out:

So really, why would anyone be a progressive Democrat given the different bonus packages that are on offer? I think my move makes a lot of sense. Every Democrat should be a conservative.

The threat of being defeated---or at least seriously challenged--in a primary election is one of the very few counterweights progressives can offer to this massive list of incentives elected Democrats have of acting in pro-conservative, pro-corporate ways.  There may be benefits to sounding progressive on the campaign trail, but as far as governing in a progressive manner goes, not so much (except for, perhaps, not creating a sucky economy that results in a sucky electoral environment for incumbents).

Now, there need to be carrots, too. Rewarding the efforts of members of Congress like Alan Grayson can also serve as a form of incentive.  If Congresscritters see that being a progressive leader can result in positive outcomes for your efforts at re-eelction and passing legislation,  that will also help serve as a counterweight to the bullet points listed above.

But, right now, with several primaries looming over the horizon, it is time to get out the stick rather than the carrot.  We need to make the following six upcoming primaries as painful as possible for these six Democrats who have spent most of their careers catering primarily to conservative and corporate interests.  We need to do this in every district, and not just run up a white flag saying "oh, its OK to suck up to conservatives and corporations if you are from a red district." That easily translates into "we are cool with you sticking it to us whenever it is politically expedient for you to do so," a proposition that defeats the entire purpose of de-incentivizing pro-corporate, pro-conservative behavior among elected Democrats.

Set out your stick, and get your primary on.  Here are six campaigns for you to join (help out in as many or as few as you wish) between now and June 22nd:

Primaries on May 18th

  • Join Joe Sestak, running for Pennsylvania Senate against ConservaDem Arlen Specter

  • Join Bill Halter, running for Arkansas Senate against  ConservaDem Blanche Lincoln

  • Join Shelia Dow Ford, running for Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional district against Blue Dog Tim Holden.

Primaries on June 8th

  • Join Marcy Winograd, running for California's 36th Congressional district against Blue Dog Jane Harman

Primaries on June 22nd

  • Join Elaine Marshall, running for Senate in North Carolina, and facing a run-off with future ConservaDem Cal Cunningham

  • Join Claudia Wright, running for Utah's 2nd Congressional district against Jim Matheson.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Specter stuck around in Republican Party for eleven weeks after stimulus vote

by: Chris Bowers

Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:35


Last night on Hardball, Arlen Specter said that he knew his days in the republican party were numbered after his stimulus vote:

"When that vote came up on the stimulus, I knew it was the end of my association with the Republican Party. "

This is a flat-out lie. Far from demonstrating a principled or conclusive break with the Republican Party, Arlen Specter's actions from his stimulus vote until his party switch demonstrate par excellence that Specter acts based on polling and to save himself, not on principle..

Specter stuck around in the Republican Party for eleven weeks after the stimulus (stimulus first passed on February 10th, Specter switched on April 28th).  After the vote, he went out of his way to try and appeal to Republicans by qualifying his support of the stimulus and shifting hard to the right on a variety of issues.  It was only after polling revealed none of those efforts would save him in the Republican primary that he switched the the Democratic Party. And, even before he switched, he secured a promise of support from the Democratic leadership in the event of any possible primary challenge.

None of this is hard to prove. Specter's own statement on switching parties said that he talked to Republicans and watched polls for weeks after the stimulus vote, and only later concluded that a schism had occurred (emphasis mine):

Since [voting for the stimulus package], I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable.

At his press conference the day he switched, Specter reiterated that his decision to switch was gradual, not a schism, and it was based on polls (emphasis mine):

"The decision has been reached gradually as I have traveled the state in the last several months," Specter said. "And specifically, I got my own poll results back last Friday--late last week, [Specter switched the next Tuesday] and consulted with my campaign managers, and had a long discussion with Joan and my son Shanin over the weekend, and came to a decision over this past weekend."

Specter is flat-out contradicting himself when he says that he knew his days in the Republican Party were over when he voted for the stimulus.  He stuck around for eleven weeks, looking at poll numbers, and only "gradually" came to that conclusion.

During those eleven weeks, switching parties was not the only decision Specter made based on polls.  As he saw polls coming in showing him well behind Pat Toomey for the Republican nomination, his voting habits shifted hard to the right in a last ditch effort to appeal to Republican voters.  Last year, Nate Silver showed that Specter shifted from voting with Democrats 58% of the time in 2009 before a March 25th Quinnipiac poll showed him trailing Pat Toomey in the Republican primary.  After the poll, Specter only voted with Dems 16% of the time:


Specter did not give up on appealing to the Republican base after the stimulus.  In addition to the broad voting measurements Silver offers, during the eleven weeks that he remained a Republican, Specter found time to announce that he would vote against card-check (even though he voted in favor in 2007), that he was reintroducing his 20% flat-tax proposal (which slashes taxes for the wealthiest 5% and raises them for everyone else), to vote against Elena Kagan for Solicitor General, and to block Dawn Johnsen.

And then, lest we forget, even after his vote in favor of the stimulus, Specter bragged about cutting $100 billion from it, and  said he wished the entire package had just been tax cuts.  This is all still on his website.

We were able to cut out $100 billion from the package and include 35% in tax relief in the overall bill. My preference would have been John McCain's proposal, which I voted for, to have the stimulus package of $421 billion in tax cuts alone. I voted for the Reagan tax cuts back in 1981 and that would be the best course, but in a legislative body you don't have exactly your own choice.

"I was impressed with the position of the United States Chamber of Commerce which was for the bill very solidly. The Chamber of Commerce, obviously, is a very conservative, Republican organization which has its hands on the economy and what's happening to many, many businesses and they were for it. All factors considered, I thought that action had to be taken.

"I voted for it with reservations, as I have commented."

Specter went on to bend over backward to trying to qualify his position the stimulus to Republicans.  He emphasized that he cut money from it, would have preferred all tax cuts, that he supported the Reagan tax cuts, sides with the Chamber of Commerce, and still had reservations anyway.

Finally, even when none of these efforts worked,, and Specter still trailed Toomey by gaping margins, before he switched parties Specter first secured a promise from the Democratic leadership that they would support him in any potential primary challenge he might receive:

Specter was promised that the Democratic Party would fully support his candidacy as a Democrat and would not back any other Democrat seeking the seat. "In money and message," the party will be behind Specter. Any other Democrat who intends to run will "not have the blessing of the party."

None of this is really a surprise from a Senator who, back in 2006, did this:

Prior to the vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, he [Specter] went to the floor of the Senate and said what the bill "seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years" and is "patently unconstitutional on its face."  He then proceeded to vote YES on the bill's passage.

Arlen Specter is one of the most all-time self-serving politicians.  Even his claim that he was the deciding vote on the stimulus ignores that there were 61 votes for the stimulus when it first passed the Senate, which allowed Ted Kennedy to stay in the hospital during the vote on the conference report.

If Democrats were to nominate this man, it would reflect extremely poorly on our own party.  Surely, Democrats stand for more than just staying in power.  Hell, by nominating Specter, Democrats would show they aren't even very good at staying in power, since Joe Sestak performs 5% better against Pat Toomey than Arlen Specter.  This is hardly a surprise, since Specter's self-serving actions are now on display for the whole state of Pennsylvania to see, and voters do not typically react well to politicians who only look out for themselves.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Get your primary on!

by: Chris Bowers

Wed May 12, 2010 at 14:15


Between now and June 22nd, progressive pose a real threat to House Blue Dogs and Senate ConservaDems in at least six primary campaigns.  Five of these primary campaigns feature incumbents, and in all six campaigns the Democratic Party machinery is backing the more conservative candidate.  Sometimes, as is the case in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, this support means several hundred thousand dollars of paid advertisements.

There is no better way to get Democratic members of Congress to listen to you, than by defeating, or even by coming close to defeating, incumbent Democrats in primary elections.  If you can beat the party, or at least make them sweat, then they have no choice but to take you, and your concerns, seriously.  These are six campaigns where the party machinery is already sweating.

So, today I a asking you to join up with all six of these primary campaigns.  Follow the links below, and sign up to their email lists.  If you want abetter Democratic Party, this is the best possible way to make that happen:

Primaries on May 18th

  • Join Joe Sestak, running for Pennsylvania Senate against ConservaDem Arlen Specter

  • Join Bill Halter, running for Arkansas Senate against  ConservaDem Blanche Lincoln

  • Join Shelia Dow Ford, running for Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional district against Blue Dog Tim Holden.

Primaries on June 8th

  • Join Marcy Winograd, running for California's 36th Congressional district against Blue Dog Jane Harman

Primaries on June 22nd

  • Join Elaine Marshall, running for Senate in North Carolina, and facing a run-off with future ConservaDem Cal Cunningham

  • Join Claudia Wright, running for Utah's 2nd Congressional district against Jim Matheson.
There will be more primaries over the summer, and lots of general elections to focus on as well, but right now these are the campaigns we need to support.  So, sign up and get your primary on!  The Democratic Party  won't represent you just to be nice,or if you just stamp your feet--this is something we have to fight for.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Pennsylvania Senate primary all tied up: Sestak has stronger support, Specter needs turnout

by: Chris Bowers

Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:10


Three new polls this morning show, on average, the Pennsylvania Senate primary exactly tied.  Quinnipiac shows Specter up 2%, F & M shows Sestak up 2%, and Muhlenberg shows an exact tie.

Worth noting about these polls:

  1. All are among likely primary voters. Quinnipiac has the largest sample size, with 945.  Muhlenberg 407, and F & M has only 150.  No matter the differences in sample size, the similarity between the three polls suggests the campaign is a toss-up.

  2. Sestak has the strongest support, according to Quinnipiac:

    Specter's support is slightly weaker than Sestak's as 34 percent of the incumbent's voters say they might change their mind, compared to 25 percent of the challenger's backers.

    Sestak stronger support is  likely be due to the not insignificant anti-Specter vote in the state.  This anti-Specter vote results in, for example, Pat Toomey scoring 8% more of the vote against Specter than against Sestak.

  3. Specter would benefit from higher turnout, as he leads among all registered Demorats, according to F & M:

    But the poll also shows Mr. Specter ahead 38 to 29 percent among all 404 adult Democrats surveyed if the likeliness of their voting was not considered.

    Democratic turnout in primaries has been low in 2010, so this is small comfort for Specter.

  4. While the trend in the ttacking poll suggests that Specter has stemmed the Sestak surge, Sestak still has room to grow:

    Specter remains better known than Sestak, with a 50 - 33 percent favorability. By comparison, Sestak gets a 42 - 10 percent favorability, with 46 percent saying they don't know enough about him to have an opinion.

    Sestak will surely become better known over the final week.  It will, however, be difficult for him to maintain his better than 4-1 favorability rating.  Those two trends--likely rising name ID, but a lower favorable ratio--might cancel each other out.

Polling over the next few days will provide further clarity, or lack thereof, on the campaign.  One thing is for certain, however: there is no way that Specter could have won this campaign without all the endorsements from party officials and establishment progressive institutions.  In a straight up match against Sestak, without any endorsements, Specter loses.  This campaign is struggle between the rank and file of Pennsylvania Democrats, and their "leaders."
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Entire political establishment of both parties agrees: save Arlen Specter at all costs

by: Chris Bowers

Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:15


Today in Pennsylvania Senate news, Arlen Specter has gone on the air with an ad featuring President Obama:


The deciding vote, eh? This ad reminds me of the ones that Specter ran six years ago. Rick Santorum also liked Arlen Specter, when he cast the deciding vote on the Bush tax cuts:


And, Specter ran an ad nearly identical to the one he is now running with Obama, featuring George W. Bush:


The Pennsylvania primary is an interesting test case that will help provide answers to many political questions:

  1. Can the powers that be can hoist any candidate they want onto their constituents? Really, its pretty impressive to get the entire political establishment of both parties to try and defend you from your own constituents. It is doubtful that there is any current member of the U.S. Senate that the institutional status quo loves more, and has done more to support, than Arlen Specter.

  2. Do voters actually like bipartisanship or not? Over the final week, Specter will simultaneously be featured in ads showing him with Bush and with Obama.

  3. How much sway does Obama really have in Democrtic primaries? If Obama really can move votes among Democrats, Specter's ad today really should be a sort of trump card that wins him the primary.  But, if Sestak is able to pull it out, don't expect fear of the White House to sway many prospective primary challengers anymore.
Today's tracking poll shows Sestak up 4%, down from 5% yesterday.  Also, Specter has twice as much money to spend in the final week as Sestak. This campaign is far from over, and you can help out at Joe Sestak's website.
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