PA-Sen: Sestak Receives Lukewarm Support but No Challenges From PA Democrats

Joe-Sestak-headshotFormer Congressman Joe Sestak cannot seem to rally current party support for his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2016 yet few opponents are stepping up to challenge him.

Sestak ran for the Senate seat in 2010, but lost the race by two percentage points to Republican Pat Toomey. He has already started campaigning for a 2016 rematch, but has yet to solidify support from Keystone State Democrats.

Senior U.S. Senator Bob Casey told Roll Call that it is “too early” to project any winners or losers for the 2016 election, but that he believes 2016 will “better than 2014” for his party. Meanwhile, outgoing Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz commended Sestak for his showing in the 2010 elections, but maintains that the Democratic primary is up for grabs as new names spark voter attention.

Sestak faced tough opposition in 2010 from incumbent Senator Arlen Specter, whose switch from moderate Republican to the Democratic Party split support for the two candidates in the primary elections. Sestak eventually beat Specter in a pricey primary fight, despite not having the support of President Obama or former Governor Ed Rendell who at one point said that Sestak would “get killed” if he ran against Specter.

Gearing up for 2016, however, if Sestak wins the primary, he and Toomey will be set for a rematch—a first in Pennsylvania history.

Sestak nonetheless welcomes a challenge in the 2016 Democratic primaries, saying that “I think anybody who wants to get in should get in.”

Potential candidates, though, like State Treasurer Rob McCord and Tom Wolf’s recently announced Chief of Staff Katie McGinty have taken themselves out of the race. Congressman Matt Cartwright, a close friend of Sestak’s, also offered an empathetic ‘no’ to joining the race. Schwartz, who just lost a gubernatorial bid, also declined to run.

The two Democratic contenders everyone is watching are Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. Kane, however, has seen her popularity decrease and Shapiro has yet to firmly indicate whether he’ll jump in.

December 4th, 2014 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Senate, Top Stories | 66 Comments

66 thoughts on “PA-Sen: Sestak Receives Lukewarm Support but No Challenges From PA Democrats”

  1. Bill Thomas says:

    If Joe Sestak’s prime competition is Josh Shapiro, he will win the primary easily. Josh will have 2 county support in the primary, Montco and Philly. Shapiro will get destroyed outside the 5 county southeast. Sestak has long ties to the Clintons and will have their support. There will always be good turnout in a presidential year, but a lot has to do with the Presidential Candidates. Progressives , even moderate progressives have no love for Hillary and her coronation. We can always home the Republican give us a gift with Rubio or Cruz or other ultra right wing. It will be interesting to watch Wolf it is clear he didn’t like the way the party dissed him even after the primary including Jim Burn and state committee

  2. David Diano says:

    Sestak isn’t even articulate in his own fundraising emails. He sent this one today:

    I served my country my entire life. First in the Navy, leadong of sailors so they took care of
    our nation. Then as a congressman, serving “we the people” so they took care of America.

    First, he misspelled “leading”
    Second, what is “leading of sailors” supposed to mean? What’s the word “of” doing there?
    Third, if “we the people” means his constituents, then he’s saying “they” took care of America, not him. What did he do (besides break his campaign promises and vote for more unchecked funding for Iraq War)?

    It’s just a mangle mess of phrases, and an incredibly weak fundraising letter.

  3. New_Liberal_Lion says:

    @Western Pa Dem How is it that you are so sure that your voters who you know won’t support Shapiro? Please give detailed reasons. From your comments one could take away thinking that everyone in Westmoreland County is a conservative Democrat and that is far from true. Some of your talking points are fair but some others come short like a horse with blinders on. You are so sure that every or most Dems won’t support him just because he’s ‘another out of touch Liberal from Philly’. And then you go and make a claim that some others on here are working against the party after you make a comment like that. Really?? Not everyone from western Pa is a conservative Dem so let’s get that straight. You claim that you are going to ‘have all these other candidates to work for come 2016.’ Like who? You mean…you actually think we are going to get somebody elected out here? Like what districts? HD54, 56, 57, 59? State senate39? PA-12, PA-18? Who the hell is going to beat Evankovich, Dunbar, Kreiger, Reese? Kim Ward? Rothfus, Murph? Everything is gerrymandered to hell and back. I don’t like them anymore than you do, but it’s time to be realistic. The reason why people don’t vote out here is because Dems can’t FIND the Dem Party. The middle isn’t going to give you ‘a middle’. The LEFT creates the middle. Enough of your Liberal bashing already. There have been some half-a** Dems in the past out here. Most Westmoreland Dems refuse to actually say the words ‘working poor’. That being said… I’d like to know where they’re going to get all these votes from in the future if they expect to win elections since conservadems can’t include everyone. Going to dinners wearing three-piece suits at Lakeview on Route 30 where they just preach to the choir. Having yearly picnics at some little pavilion at Hempfield park where it’s only advertised within the county committee where only under a hundred show up, is just so embarrassing. I remember the 2010 picnic gathering and how depressing it was sitting there knowing full well someone like Dan Connolly wasn’t going to beat Tim Murphy and the sickening feeling that came with it. I love Dan, don’t get me wrong. But it’s time we tore down county and state committee altogether and form a New Democratic Order where every candidate signs a pledge to fight for true Democratic Values.

  4. New_Liberal_Lion says:

    @Craig L The part about state committee. That was excellent! The part about it being a social club.

  5. New_Liberal_Lion says:

    @Craig L You hit the nail right on the head!

  6. Craig L. says:

    Jo, they won’t. They’ll vote to reelect Toomey. I give Toomey credit, he’s done a good job at laying low, but also getting good press when it counts, especially if it reflects moderation and balance (i.e. background checks.) I think Toomey has an incredibly good shot at capturing the west especially if the Dems nominate Sestak again. Sestak hurts the down ballot candidates. Even Clinton won’t be able to bring Sestak over the finish line.

  7. Jo says:

    ok ok ok enough with the petty stuff… In all seriousness, I’m desperate to understand why you believe so strongly that “Reagan Democrats” will vote for Sestak over Toomey when they rejected Sestak the first time around?

    Fair question

  8. Jo says:

    Western if I was your County Chair I would have you removed as a committee person for violating the state committee bylaws when you said in this thread that you would refuse to work to elect the eventual Dem. nominee.

    P.S. You sound like a bitter McCord supporter

  9. David Diano says:

    Western PA Dem-

    “dedicated a hard working Democratic county committee person”
    Umm…. an anonymous person claiming to be such, but making a lot of statements about limited time rather than working hard.

    “Democrats attack the people doing the work”. But, you said that you wouldn’t work for Josh.

    The Republicans in PA aren’t looking forward to another Dem presidential sweep here, nor the increased Dem voter turnout and registration.

  10. Western PA Dem says:

    Pot calling the kettle, Craig?

  11. Craig L. says:

    Western PA Dem you’re just as bad as Sestak. You don’t know when to stop talking.

  12. Western PA Dem says:

    The donkey, sometimes called the jackass, is the symbol of the Democratic Party and this thread proves it. When so-called “Democrats” like Jo and David D and others attack dedicated a hard working Democratic county committee person on a public forum readable to all (including Republicans) state wide and beyond, it is clear why Democrats are losing in Pennsylvania.

    As I said earlier, Republicans respect their County Committees all over the state, and they respect their State Committee, and they are winning elections. Democrats attack the people doing the work and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As I said, I am sure that Republicans reading this thread are enjoying their popcorn and getting ready to celebrate more wins in 2016 and beyond. It’s a darn shame. Shame. On. You.

    And Jo, FYI, despite your ageist and sexist name-calling (twice) I am not an “old man.” I am an adult FEMALE still young enough to be called a Young Democrat and have been active in my party since before I was 18. I wasn’t even in kindergarten when Reagan was elected. But unlike you, I understand the realities of what Reagan’s movement did to blue collar Democrats and the effect it still has on elections state wide in Pennsylvania. You apparently can’t be bothered to learn all that; all you can seem to do to support your “wonderful” candidate is make multiple posts of the same garbage, resort to ageist and sexist name-calling, and try to chase people who don’t agree with you out of our so-called party of diversity. If I were Josh Shapiro I would ask YOU to stay the heck away from my campaign because ignorant and nasty supporters like you are all the more reason for this party to stay far away from him as a potential candidate.

  13. David Diano says:

    Western PA Dem-

    Wolf had no coattails because his campaign ACTIVELY refused to work for them and wouldn’t go to bat for candidates out of fear of antagonizing the state GOP. (A poor strategy to be sure.)

    But, YOU are the won who claimed you couldn’t do your job (and I provided a quote).

    In a Presidential year, turnout isn’t an issue (which normally is the hardest part of committee work in convincing voters to come to the polls). The top of the ticket dominates all other resources and drives the strategy. So, it’s really a question of convincing/reminding voters to vote straight ticket to vote for the same values in the entire slate and “send a message to Washington”. There really isn’t “much else” for you to do besides connect candidates to Hillary.

    The sample ballots at the polls will have the whole slate.

    If you can’t see that Josh is a great representative for the Democratic party and it’s ideals/values/policies/etc. then maybe you need a refresher course on being a Dem.

  14. Jo says:

    YES!! Finally, you said something rational! Please step down!! Go retire to your lazy boy chair and drink from your “Democrats for Reagan” mug old man! Even better switch your registration to Republican since you essentially talk and vote like one. You won’t be missed.

    PAC’s are a better organized and more effective tool than State Committee any day!

  15. Western PA Dem says:

    David D, my job is to use the time and resources I have available to get the most Democrats elected as possible in my area. In 2016 I have to juggle a Presidential race, US House, US Senate, PA House, PA Senate, and maybe some other races, all with very limited volunteers in an area with angry, hostile and conservative voters. Yes, Hillary probably has the best chance of anyone here. Are you accusing me of being incompetent if I can’t connect Shapiro to my voters’ liking for Hillary?

    As I said there are only so many hours in the day. In 2016 I will be doing what I consider the best I can to get as many Democrats as I can elected. There is only going to be so much we can do with the time and volunteers we have. This means I won’t be concentrating solely on someone like Shapiro who I know won’t win here. If Hillary runs she will be our priority. If she has enough coattails to pull someone like Shapiro along, lucky for him and good for our Party. But I am not sure that Hillary or anyone else will have that big of coattails. Look at 2014; Wolf won statewide but pulled virtually no other Democrats with him. Split tickets rule these days.

    If you think that is incompetent, too bad. I have no intention of stepping down because there IS NO other committee person to take my place. FYI in much of this state, including my area, our Democratic Committees have maybe about 50% of the seats filled. I think this is in large part because of Democrats like you and Craig L who attack those of us who DO accept these difficult unpaid committee jobs by accusing us of not doing these jobs to your liking and calling us irrelevant.

    In the meantime Republicans are winning elections and again IMO it is in large part because of so-called “Democrats” who undermine the party and the committee people who are working in it.

    Actually, maybe I SHOULD step down after all these years and let the Republicans win by default. Maybe that would make people like you and Craig happy. I am sure this whole thread is making all the Republicans reading it ecstatic! Congratulations.

  16. David Diano says:


    1) 1996 was a Clinton, so they might again.

    2) When Dean was DNC chair, he boosted state committees with additional staff as part of 50 state strategy. State committee can be effective with the right resources.

    3) Sestak will never quit, he’ll just harass his staff harder and blame them (and Dem party, and voters, and everybody else) for his troubles. Sestak’s ego will not permit him to accept that voters will reject him or that another candidate will be able to work hard enough to be beat him.
    Of course, the death-blow to Sestak would be if the Clintons endorsed Shapiro.

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