PA-Sen: McGinty-Sestak Primary Battle is Part of National Trend

McGinty-SestakIt’s tough to win a battle with dissension in the ranks.

One of the biggest political stories of the past few years was the regret Republicans felt after the 2010 and 2012 elections, where contentious primaries and lackluster candidates arguably cost them the Senate majority.

A concerted effort was made to fix these problems and last year the GOP finally won the upper chamber of Congress.

Now, however, the Democrats are the ones facing numerous splintering primaries that could hamper their efforts to win back the Senate.

In a new piece from Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times, she takes a look at the various Democratic Senate primaries taking place throughout the nation.

One of those battles is right here in the Keystone State.

“Establishment Democrats are viewing Mr. Toomey with the longing of a lion staring at a wildebeest,” Steinhauer writes.

She also notes that Pennsylvania is unique in that the McGinty-Sestak primary is less about ideology than personalities. To put plainly, many Democratic leaders don’t like Joe Sestak.

“It’s not like this is groundswell from the bottom up to find an alternative,” Terry Madonna told Steinhauer. “It was top down.”

Currently, the balance of power in the Senate is 54 to 46 in favor of Republicans. Thanks to their victories in 2010, however, the GOP has to defend 24 seats in 2016 compared to just 10 Democratic ones.

Furthermore, none of the Democratic seats are in states Mitt Romney won in 2012 while six Republican seats are in states Barack Obama won that year (Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin).

Nevertheless, in addition to PA, competitive Democratic primaries are expected in Florida, Illinois and Ohio.

31 Responses

  1. I’ve heard Sestak speak six times, now, in person, for up to an hour at a time. Large groups, small groups. Incredibly rational mind. Intense, but a startlingly small ego for someone who has held the ranks he’s held. I remain as impressed as ever.

    (And these “crazy person” whisper campaigns start to sound awfully similar, after a few go-arounds. Can’t we have something more creative, next time? Accuse the candidate of barbecuing live wiener dogs, or something.)

    I had wanted to like McGinty last cycle, in the Gov. race–spoke in her praise, on the issues, among friends, and originally expected to vote for her in the primary–but then found her performance at the education debate in East Liberty to be face-palmingly bad. I still don’t know if she’s a potentially good candidate who performs badly when mouthing other people’s words, or a so-so candidate who can’t verbalize her own issues. If she were lined up against another marginal candidate, I might look further, and hope to like her better. But frankly, Sestak’s head and shoulders above. Fetterman’s done some very creative stuff in Braddock, but artistic tiny-town mayor to Senator is too much of a stretch to do in one jump. Wish he’d run for county executive–primary Fitzgerald–that’d be a good race, to discuss some real issues.

  2. Nothing is more athletic than an electorate bemoaning a challenged race. Isn’t that the point?

  3. 7248133100
    Strange, Admiral Sestak already bucked a top-down effort to select candidates in 2010. I am a life-long, fairly partisan Democrat who actually voted against Arlen Specter for the first time in 2010, the only time he was on the ballot as a Democrat!
    Both parties need more candidates with an independent mind on critical issues. The legislative leadership of both Parties in both Houses is deplorable and not in the national interest. Unfortunately, the “sheep” who constitute the rest of the lawmakers appear to have determined it is more important to get re-elected than participate in national debates.

  4. Observer #2-

    1) Have you seen him rant and rave psychotically?

    Plenty have.

    Joe also has a god-complex. When he first announced, back in early 2006, at the opening of his campaign HQ, he told a story about how a nervous young sailor looked up to him on the eve of a battle. Sestak said, and this is a direct quote: “I was his God!”

  5. Jerry Policoff:
    Yes, I agree. As I said, we can now disregard David and Delco as serious commenters. Their amateur psychological evaluation should apply to all political candidates as well as to themselves—let’s see if anyone passes their crazy test. Their comments are clearly getting out of hand.

  6. Jerry Policoff-

    Some of us have seen Sestak’s crazy, wild-eye rants. Maybe you haven’t yet. But, it’s a sight you don’t soon forget. The guy has a screw loose.

    Queeg, like Sestak, got off by dressing down his subordinates. Like, Queeg, Sestak is acting like there is a conspiracy against him, rather than a sober evaluation of his inability to work with others and beat Toomey.

  7. Observer 2:
    David never documents anything he writes and does not know how to do anything but smear. He does not deserve to be taken seriously, and we should all just ignore him. I find it amusing that David seems to equate Sestak with Captain Queeg of the “Caine Mutiny.” Is this transference? After all Queeg was obsessive, and I would use the same adjective to describe David, certainly when it comes to his obsessive hatred of Sestak which goes back at least six years. I wonder if David has some marbles he rolls around in his hand while posting his anti-Sestak rants.

  8. David Diano and Delco:
    I guess we now know 2 people who cannot be taken seriously here at Politics PA.

  9. The premise of the article quoted in this post is misleading. The Republican losses in earlier Senate contests came about because of deep ideological differences in their contested primaries resulting in deeply flawed conservative tea party nominees lacking the mainstream appeal needed to win statewide contests. That is not the case in the McGinty-Sestak primary.

    McGinty was pressured to get in the race by party leaders first because polling was showing Sestak to be a weak and damaged candidate. Keep in mind that McGinty resisted early calls for her to enter the race. It was not until Emily’s List turned up the heat on her to become a candidate that she made the leap. Some may say it was a top – down recruitment effort but I think that fails to tell the entire story.

  10. Observer #2-

    If Sestak was any more “nuts”, squirrels would be trying to store him for the winter.

  11. Delco Diaspora-

    Joe is unraveling. His mental state was never too stable. I agree that his brother was a stabilizing force.

    Joe’s got a Trump-like ego. He won’t take conventional advice and is quick to fire people for very minor offense (both real and imagined).

    If you want to see a preview of Joe’s mental downward spiral, watch the movie the Caine Mutiny.

  12. I’ve actually seen Sestak several times the past 6 months. You are doing a smear job on him. I don’t think you would like it if people posting here were to start making up phony stuff against your candidate. Let’s try to stay above the cheap shots, if you can. Sestak is still the one who can handle Toomey most effectively—notice all the “veterans” ads being run by Toomey—-obviously the Republican sees the Admiral as his biggest threat.

  13. Observer #2 while I am loath to agree with Diano I have to agree that the Sestak of late does not seem mentally capable of running for Senate. In the past year I have seen him in person a number of times and while he still has the fire and passion he displayed in 2010 his speeches are disjointed and lack coherency. At many of his appearances at local Democratic picnics and BBQs he has shown up after everyone has left while people are cleaning up. That says to me he isn’t organized nor is he prepared to run an effective statewide campaign.

    I hate to say this but its quite possible that the loss of his brother, who it looks like was a stabilizing force on his campaign, might be the reason for his erratic behavior. I respect those pro-Sestak people but I encourage them to see the man he is today not the man they saw 6 years ago. Judge him now and I think you too will see that he is no longer qualified to run for Senate.

  14. Observer #2-

    My point is that Sestak is not a resident of PA, but merely posing as one, since he is actually a resident of Virginia. So, yes, that makes his registration and voting in PA also improper and he shouldn’t be allowed to vote in PA either.

    Actually, I brought up his temperament last time. His treatment of his staff and behavior as congressmen was infamous due to his poor temper. Interviews with former staffers who quit in droves was testament to that. Sestak was the employer of last resort for staffers looking to work for a congressman.

    I’m not a “fan” of McGinty. Sestak is a p*ss-poor candidate whose time has come and gone. McGinty stands a better chance against Toomey than Sestak does, though the odds favor Toomey against both of them. Sestak can’t beat Toomey. McGinty might beat Toomey.

    Sestak has a long standing pattern of taking advantage young people (staffers, interns, volunteers, and other) to further his own ambitions while treating them like crap. He does NOT believe in minimum wage (as he paid his congressional staffers less than hourly minimum wage). He’s a fraud, and I’ll take a Dem puppet over a Dem fraud.

  15. David Diano:
    You have to be a PA resident to vote in PA. Thus, your charges are outrageous. Additionally, you are lodging bizarre allegations. Temperament, really? Why was none of this a problem in the last election? I suppose anyone could make up anything about anyone and this website would print it. One reason I hesitated to participate. But, if people like me refrain, then people like you win. Do you want me to start some crazy stuff about your candidate, McG? By the way, I am completely unattached to any campaign in any way, financially or otherwise. I simply like Joe Sestak and think he will beat his opponents because he is not run by a handful of puppeteers and insiders.

  16. Jpaul-

    1) Residency is a qualification/requirement.
    2) Based on nearly 10 years of Joe’s civilian/political life he is unqualified by temperament and integrity to represent the Dem of PA.
    3) He was kicked out of the Navy for good reason.
    4) He’s not mentally stable enough for the job.
    5) If McGinty just goes along with the Dem majority on every vote, she will be better than Sestak, who can’t be trusted to stay a Dem.

    Observer #2-

    I have not posted as “Vanessa”.

    I’ve made a HUGE point, repeatedly, that Sestak owns a house in PA, but is not a resident. His primary residence is in VA with his wife and kid.

    I don’t think that Sestak qualifies as a resident, and his statements in his campaign literature that he “lives with his wife and daughter” are inconsistent with his claim of residency. He should be disqualified from running. I think the McGinty campaign should ask the FEC to look into it, or even take Sestak to court themselves and get him on the record about his residency.

  17. David:
    In your post to me previously (where you then called yourself VANESSA?) you CLEARLY stipulated that Joe votes and resides in PA. Your crazy charges are over, thanks to your own response. This is a non-issue. As for McG, she is clearly out of her league. It intrigues me as to why you love her so much……..I hate to say this, but she is, as Jpaul says, a loser and unqualified, and as I said, a she’s a puppet for a handful of corrupt establishment politicos who pull her strings. IMO.

  18. There he goes again – David Is hung up on residence- obscuring McGintys total lack of qualification for the U.S. senate- she has been , is and will continue to be a loser- she finished last in Dem primary for a reason- people know a light weight when they see one. Sestak is clearly better qualified and unlike McGinty he isn’t a lanky for the corrupt democratic establishment in this Commonwealth. Better Toomey or Sestak than an unqualified McGinty

  19. MontCo PA
    I know loads and loads of background on McG. All bad news. Google her and her husband Karl Hausker—Rendell—fracking. And that is not even the real problem! She is out of her league, a puppet, an unsuccessful wannabe. Do some research. Her puppeteers do not care if she goes down against Toomey. Makes me wonder if they are on Toomey’s side. She is in way over her head! Her puppeteers have poisoned the well and she is a disaster. Sestak is going to win this thing, fortunately.

  20. O2, you’re kind of harsh to McGinty, aren’t you? In the governors race, everybody was an also-ran once Wolf saturated the airwaves. I actually don’t believe Katie was even in the race to win, just to establish her name and put herself in position to take advantage of whatever came next. And that’s exactly what has happened over the past year. Rather than trying to tear down McGinty, why not just make your case for Joe? (Yeah, I know Diano doesn’t play that way, but consider that another argument for not going down that road.) I really do believe that once you see McGinty and Sestak side by side in any public forum or debate, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. She will be a MUCH stronger candidate vs. Toomey.

  21. David Diano
    Yes, you deserve an answer as to “truth” in my previous post. In my haste, I took a chance and enclosed the word in quotes hoping the quotes would imply I did not mean literal truth, but perceived truth on the part of those who are supporting both Sanders and Trump in very large numbers. I do like Sanders and hope he does what Eugene McCarthy did to LBJ. But, I hope Bernie goes much farther and actually becomes President, a tough task, but ya never know what can happen when the college kids are on your side and reinvigorated and truth, as I perceive it, is on your side. Thanks for the question.

  22. Yeah, like she’s done so well in the past in her quest for governor, party chair, endorsement by the party rank and file for governor. All failures. When will she and her puppeteers get the message that she is not a winner. Sestak will beat her and Toomey—that is when it may sink in that she is out of her league.

  23. I usually don’t respect much of what Terry Madonna has to say when he’s interviewed or when he puts out half-baked polls loaded with his own half-baked conjecture, but in this case he’s pretty much on-target: McGinty’s entry into the primary WAS a top-down move that was engineered largely by party leadership.

    In 2010, I was very vocal in my opposition to the top-down decision-making that brought us the Arlen Specter-as-a-Democrat fiasco. I really don’t feel any differently about party leadership today — for the most part, I find them out of touch and lacking any bold vision that includes traditional Democratic ideals. But in this particular case, I am thankful for what they did — Democrats need a choice in this primary, because I think we can do better than Sestak.

    If Sestak wins the primary, I will support him wholeheartedly against Toomey; but in the meantime, I’m supporting McGinty, whether or not she’s running at the request of people I really don’t respect. I think she’s the better candidate, and I think the primary will clearly show that.

  24. McGinty is the best Democratic candidate PAC money can buy. That’s why Fast Eddie loves her. She has been Pro Fracking since the git-go. No, thanks.

  25. Trump speaks the truth? Did the definition of that word change recently?

    Sestak is the one spouting memorized talking points.

    Maybe the trend is to play smart and nominate electable candidates

  26. Key words: “establishment Democrats” ie. McGinty. People are tired of establishment, neo-liberal, double-talking Party bosses and corporate elites. Trump and Sanders, opposites ideologically, speak “truth” strange as that may seem. Sestak will go all the way and defeat both establishment candidates, McG and Toomey. What “trend”, btw? Media creating a narrative where there is none? Manufacturing a story line.

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