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PA-Sen: Peace Between Sestak and D.C.?

Joe-Sestak-headshotJoe Sestak has never been a favorite among national Democratic leaders.

It goes back to 2010, when Sestak successfully defeated incumbent Senator (and Republican turned Democrat) Arlen Specter for the party’s nomination. A lot of effort went into getting Specter to switch parties and the Democrats didn’t want a costly primary hampering their chances to hold the seat.

Still, Sestak beat Specter and nearly defeated Toomey.

The former Congressman hasn’t endeared himself since then either. Sestak has criticized D.C. Democrats, made some unconventional campaign decisions and hasn’t been the most prolific fundraiser.

As a result, Democrats have tried to get literally anyone else to run in 2016. Each potential challenger, though, has for one reason or another failed to materialize.

First, Allyson Schwartz chose to run for Governor in 2014 instead, a decision that didn’t exactly pay dividends.

Next, hopes for Rob McCord and Kathleen Kane ended after their careers self-destructed (McCord is awaiting sentencing while Kane’s future is up in the air).

Michael Nutter seemed to consider the possibility but decided to pass.

More low-profile candidates like former Congressman Chris Carney and State Sen. Vince Hughes flirted with a run but ultimately nothing came from either of them.

Democratic Senate leaders, such as Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, tried for months to convince Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro to throw his hat in the ring. Nevertheless, Shapiro decided to stay on the sidelines.

Finally Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski jumped in the race, only for an FBI investigation to derail his hopes and force him to suspend his campaign.

Now the spotlight turns to Gov. Wolf’s Chief of Staff Katie McGinty, although what choice she makes is very much uncertain at this point.

Given all this, it looks like Democrats are at last trying to make peace with Joe Sestak.

In a Politico piece by Manu Raju on Minority Leader Harry Reid’s involvement in the 2016 elections, the author mentions a meeting between Reid and Sestak.

“When Reid and his lieutenants assessed the increasingly messy situation in the Pennsylvania Senate race, they decided they needed to intervene,” Raju writes. “For months, former Rep. Joe Sestak had been running what they considered a lackluster campaign, forcing party leaders to woo other potential candidates. But with Sestak now appearing as the candidate most likely to win the Democratic nomination, Reid and party elders sought to right the ship.”

“At a private meeting in Washington last month, sources familiar with the session said, a clear message was delivered to Sestak: Make some key changes to the campaign — including hiring more staff and stepping up his fundraising — and the party establishment would seriously consider throwing its weight behind him,” Raju reveals.

There is always the possibility that Sestak resists whatever changes Reid suggested or becomes upset that his outsider image could be tarnished if he and the Senate leader come to an agreement.

Nonetheless, for perhaps the first time ever, Senate Democrats appear to be at least somewhat amenable to serving alongside Joe Sestak.

13 Responses

  1. as a lifelong Dem i’m quite frankly puzzled why the party leaders think we are all going to go along with their top down choices of whom we should support in each and every race. EG- dictating H Arnet to us instead of allowing an open fair special election. i watched the gubernatorial debates of ’14 and there is good reason why K M finished dead last. all the mad avenue PR and clinton bucks cannot turn her into an appealing candidate for US Senate, for a lot of thinking grass roots people.

  2. formerPADem

    He spends plenty of time in PA campaigning, but in his literature he also claims to live with his wife and daughter, who are clearly not PA residents. So which is it?

    Are they married but separated? (and live in two different states)

    He and his wife took a temporary apartment when he ran in 2006. His wife even registered in PA and she voted in primary and general. But, once elected, Joe bought the house he’s now registered at, and his wife dropped her PA registration.
    Joe’s been on the ballot six times, and his own wife didn’t vote for him the last four.

    Is PA just where he “commutes” to for his “job” of running for office? A home away from home?

    Does anyone think that he would keep his PA house if he loses the election next year?

    Joe is really just a tourist in PA.

  3. David, I lived in Media PA from 2011 to 2013 and saw Joe Sestak all the time. I am not a fan of him or his campaigns (because he treats staff like crap and underpays them) but I suspect he spends plenty of time in PA and I don’t fault the man for not wanting to shuttle his family back and forth after his political fortunes changed.

  4. So, Sestak almost beats Toomey in 2010 while essentially running an independent campaign, while the “party backed’ candidate for governor that year runs ten point s behind. even with all of his faults, it sounds like the Democrats could, and have done worse. As far as “coordinated Campaigns” are concerned, perhaps the Governor should have done more than just paid lip service last year. Last I saw, he lost eight House and three Senate seats. A feat that should not be lost on him at this point. Maybe Mikus can do a repeat performance and attack Sestak when he’s the Democratic nominee.

  5. Looks like they’re finally coming to terms with being stuck with the “unconventional” Joe Sestak.

  6. If the best the Democrats can come up with for presidential candidates are two geriatric recycled career politicians I see no reason they would not support a candidate that for the past few years was met with Dem scorn but as fate would have it turns out to be their only hope in 2016.

  7. If I were a Democratic candidate for congress, Sen. Harry Reid would be the last person were I would seek advice. Reid, Pelosi and Wasserman-Schultz They are the ones that sank the Democratic majority in the Senate and Congress. Do you really believe that they are fighting for the tax-paying, middle class, American Citizen? I do Not!

  8. Jerry Policoff-

    Sestak has betrayed the voters, the party, his running mates and his past supporters too many times.

    If he’s the nominee, he deserves support beyond a vote against Toomey on election day. Instead, voters/activists/Dems/etc. would be better off working to support the down-ticket candidates for legislative office and educating voters to vote the whole ticket.

    We’d be better off in PA with a Dem legislature and Toomey, than Sestak and the GOP buffoons who made this latest budget.

    If Sestak happens to get in by chance/luck, so be it. But, he’s wasted millions of Dem dollars with nothing to show for it. He’s a bad investment that Dems should pass over by putting their money behind better candidates in PA and other states.

    Sestak needs to “take one for the team” and suffer on his own.

  9. I’m just curious. There are several people who frequent this site who clearly hate Sestak. If he makes peace with the Democratic Leadership and they end up supporting him and fund raising for him, will you support him?
    Frankly I thought the Leadership would never support Sestak because they hate candidates who exhibit independence from them, but it appears I may have been wrong. Maybe they would prefer to win with Sestak than lose with someone else after all.

  10. Did they also demand that he stop plowing into little children on the street? No doubt TV commercials including that footage are already being made.

  11. One other suggestion: selling his real home in Virginia and actually moving himself and his family to PA.

    Oh.. wait.. that’s too radical for the senate candidate to actually live here.

  12. And paying staff decent wages and working on coordinated campaign (rather than screwing down-ticket candidates).

  13. “Make some key changes to the campaign — including hiring more staff and stepping up his fundraising…”

    Such unreasonable demands… These are things Sestak should be doing anyway.

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