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PA-Sen: Sestak Considered Weak Spot of Democrats’ 2016 Senate Class

Sestak-WalkIt has been a mixed week for Joe Sestak.

After being called “Forrest Gump” on MSNBC – which prompted him to launch a “weird” donation scheme – Sestak has been labeled the Democratic Party’s “biggest lingering problem.”

In the Washington Post’s political blog, The Fix, Chris Cillizza writes about the strength of the Democrats’ candidates for Senate next year. “Democrats have a legitimate ‘A’ recruit,” in the four toss-up states, according Cillizza.

“It’s not all peaches and cream for Democrats on the recruiting front,” he counters. “The party’s biggest lingering problem…is in Pennsylvania, where national Democrats have made no secret of the fact that they would prefer former representative Joe Sestak not be their nominee against Sen. Pat Toomey.”

Sestak’s issues with Democratic leaders are well-documented. Many fear he won’t be able to raise enough money to coordinate an effective campaign and defeat a well-financed incumbent Republican.

Democrats see next year as their chance to win back the Senate, Cillizza notes, with 2016 “far more favorable to the party than the 2018 landscape.”

“If Democrats get [former North Carolina Sen. Kay] Hagan and [New Hampshire Gov. Maggie] Hassan – and find someone credible not named “Sestak” in Pennsylvania – they will have put together a truly outstanding class,” he concludes.

18 Responses

  1. Specter would not have beaten Toomey. He turned on the Republicans and a majority of Dems disliked him. Sestak did better than Specter would have in Allegheny County and Southwestern PA where Specter was very unpopular.

  2. The weak spot is the Democratic leadership. They have proven they can lose to tea party loons time after time, undercutting their own candidates when they can’t lose any other way.

  3. Montco-
    You are right about Sestak winning as more of an anti-candidate. 2006 was a wave year for Dems and Sestak benefited greatly from the coordinated campaign from Rendell-Casey handling ground operations and having an office a few blocks down the street from Sestak’s HQ.

    Unfortunately, we can replay 2010 with Specter against Toomey. But, in 2004, Specter beat Toomey in the Republican primary. He wouldn’t have won the 2010 primary, but he would have picked up a lot of moderate R’s and most of the D’s against Toomey in a general election. He had $10 million in the bank in the spring of 2010 and six years of opposition research on Toomey to paint him as an extremist. I think it’s VERY clear Specter would have won the general and beaten Toomey.

    While your dog would be better than Toomey, I’d rather have NO SENATOR than either Toomey or Sestak. Yes. Sestak is worse than having no senator at all. He lacks the temperament for the job, and doesn’t deserve a tax-payer paid job where he gets to abuse more staff.

  4. This is really getting boring, but I will again give my Sestak sermon: The upcoming 2016 Senate race is not like the race of 2010, nor is it like the 2008 or 2006 7th District races.

    In each of those campaigns there was a compelling reason to support Joe, and the reasons had more to do with his opponents than they did with Joe’s strength (or lack of it) as a candidate. Joe was in the right place at the right time to battle against Curt Weldon and Arlen Specter. He didn’t necessarily win in 2006 or in the 2010 primary because voters were overwhelmingly pro-Joe, it was more because they were anti-Weldon and anti-Specter.

    I totally disagree with Diano when he says that Specter would have beaten Toomey — Specter would have been trounced if he had run in the general, Repubs would have risen from their deathbeds to vote against the man who they saw as a traitor to their party. And there were plenty of Dems who would have simply not voted for either candidate if that was the choice. Doesn’t matter how much money Specter had, he would have lost and lost big.

    This time, however, it’s going to take money, a strong candidate, and a bit of coattail help from the Presidential race to get rid of Toomey. And I don’t think that Sestak has the ability to deliver. I’m hoping somebody else enters the race and gives the Dems a chance to pick a stronger candidate. But if our candidate is Sestak, I’ll again become a gung-ho supporter, just like I was in 2010, 2008, and 2006. Because any Democratic candidate — even my dog Fido — would be better than another six years of Pat Toomey.

  5. Shelly-
    The Dems handed the seat to Toomey when they picked Sestak over Specter.

    Jerry Policoff-
    It’s not about “refusing to play ball” that makes Sestak “not a team player”. It’s his total selfishness and active undermining and bad mouthing of other Dems on the ticket to garner Republican votes. His campaign wouldn’t do joint lit-drops with other Dems so he wouldn’t be associated with them. He rejected legitimate efforts to work together and cooperate in a coordinated campaign. Ask his former staffers. Sestak doesn’t give a lick about the party or other candidates. It’s all about Joe.

    If Sestak wins, it will be because Hillary has coattails. The Dems have blown $20 million on this fool, with nothing to show for it. Dems need to cut their losses and worry about taking back the PA house and senate instead.

    I agree the DNC is poorly managed.
    However, Sestak is not a progressive. He merely pretends to be one. Talk to people at the PA Progressive Summit and they’ll laugh if you refer to Sestak as a progressive. He treats his workers horribly. He’s the kind of boss that unions were formed to oppose. He’s also a pro-war hawk who voted for warrantless wiretaps and telecom immunity.

    Andrew Goutman-
    You must have caught him on a off day. Did he fail to tell one of his pointless Navy stories?

  6. At this rate, Toomey will win a higher percentage of the vote in his race than Hillary will win in hers. For historical reference…

    2012 – Obama 51.96%
    2008 – Obama 54.47%
    2004 – Kerry 50.92%
    2000 – Gore 50.60%

  7. The weak spot is the DNC.

    They rarely help PA candidates who are progressive and supported by the rank and file.

  8. I attended one of Sestak’s “house parties,” and he was anything but weird or an oddball. He was smart, passionate and laid out a coherent, consistent agenda. The national D’s would do well to get behind Joe Sestak now, because he will be the one opposing slimy Toomey. I can’t even believe they’re still raising these phantom issues of 2010. If I’m not mistaken, Sestak lost by a couple of points in an R wave year. Instead of complaining, Rendell and his henchmen should be helping Joe raise money.

  9. Ed Rendell and the Comcast/NBC/Universal Bbillionaires are supporting Pat Toomey. Comcast/NBC/Universal Bbillionaires own MSNBC. The faux journalists do what they are told’

    FTA MSNBC After being called “Forrest Gump” on MSNBC – which prompted him to launch a “weird” donation scheme – Sestak has been labeled the Democratic Party’s “biggest lingering problem.”

  10. I admire Joe for refusing to play ball with the corrupt Democratic machine that cares more about circumventing the Primary process and controlling the outcome than winning elections. For me, the fact that the Party hacks don’t like him for not being a “team player” is one of the main reasons I support Joe Sestak. Joe will win because he has the support of the grass roots which the Party Leadership lost long ago.
    The bottom line is that the Democrats know Sestak has the best shot at winning, but they won’t get behind him because they’d rather lose with a puppet than win with someone who won’t ask “how high?” when they say jump. Go Joe.

  11. MonroeDem-

    Sestak refused to work with the leadership because they didn’t support him, not the other way around. I’ve talked to former Specter staffers who approached the Sestak campaign to help and were turned away.

    Sestak also refused to make use of state committee staff/workers when he was told that he’d have to pay them minimum wage.

    Sestak’s loss was self-inflicted by his refusal to coordinate with anyone else and “go it alone”, thinking he was superior to everyone else. Sestak has nothing but contempt for every other candidate on the ticket because he believes none of them works as hard as he does, and are therefore unworthy. In Delco, Sestak’s team put out GOTV door-knockers sample ballots with just Joe and not the rest of the Dem slate. Meanwhile, candidates like Lentz trying to retain Sestak’s congressional seat (and deprived of volunteers because Sestak sucked them all up) were putting out door-knocker with the entire slate (including Joe). This led to a lot of wasted effort, as Joe abandoned the entire Dem party.

    Sestak ran in the primary to “lead the democratic ticket”, but immediately after the primary, he removed all references to the party. He even altered ads from the primary to remove the “democrat for senate” label. His staffers also got new t-shirts that had the work “Admiral” on the front, and Sestak for Senate on the back, with the word “democrat”.

    So, if you think Sestak cares one whit about the party or the other candidates on the ticket, think again. Talk to his former staffers, and they will tell you “It’s all about Joe.”

    Back in 2006, his field director said to me: “F*ck the other candidates. I don’t care if they all lose. Joe’s the only one that matters.” This attitude is pervasive in his campaigns.

    The better choice is for Dems to put their time/money/effort into taking back the state house/senate and maybe a congressional seat in some close districts, and leaving Joe swinging in the wind (as he’s done to everyone else).

    If he beats Toomey, it will ONLY be from HUGE coattails from Hillary, rather than any interest in Sestak himself.

  12. The reality was that in the teabagger wave of 2010, Joe Sestak came the closest of statewide candidates to almost winning. Had the leadership supported him instead of moaning about and punishing him for how he defeated Specter, perhaps he would have had enough cash in the bank to pull it off. Instead we ended up with the vile Toomey destroying our country. Joe has my support, and if we are to win we need to unite around whoever is our candidate and stop trying to sabotage our chance to get rid of the terrible mess we are stuck with currently.

  13. Sue

    Joe is not an independent populist. He’s a self serving guy who will say anything he thinks people want to hear. There is a huge difference.

    The first time I met Sestak in 2006, I asked him if he would support a constitutional amendment allowing gay marriage. His answer was “marriage is only between a man and a woman”. Since then, the polls have shifted (along with his position).

    But Joe claims to have been a gay rights advocate when he was in the Navy, because if a crewman wanted to come out to him as gay, he stopped the conversation so he wouldn’t have to discharge the person. However, this is an admission that he would have discharged a gay sailor, rather than look the other way, or rather than resign in protest of the policy. So, all he really did was to avoid some paperwork and risk to himself.

    If Joe claims to have supported gay marriage prior to Jan 2006, he’s just lying.

  14. Delco observer-

    The person who worked hardest to hand this seat to Toomey was Sestak in 2009 & 2010, by knocking out the guy who owned the middle and already had $10 million cash on hand in the Spring before the election.

    Sestak’s fundraising is very weak. Last time around, he was a sitting congressman who (deceptively) raised over $4 million to defend the 7th district, before absconding with it for his Senate race. Sestak exhausted his limited supply of max donors over a year ago, and can’t raise another nickel from them.

    Sestak’s only hope is huge coattails from Hillary, and good endorsement speech/clip from Bill to run in ads. If the Hillary campaign gets wind of how poorly Sestak’s female staffers have been treated in the past, she might not want to be too closely associated with Sestak.

    National Dems will probably put their money into better candidates and races where there is more bang for the buck. PA is going to be a blue state for president, so I wouldn’t count on the campaign putting a lot of effort into the state or pushing for a straight ticket vote.

    Sestak doesn’t play nice in a coordinated campaign, especially when he’s one of the big fish and wants the biggest say.

    With the Hillary campaign, if he wants any coordination, he’s going to have to do whatever they say.

  15. Joe Sestak is a populist, independent sort of guy.
    Just as weird as all the rest of us independent populists who are sick and tired of the money party and the old boys cliques that are driving this country back to the Gilded Age.

    Got my vote, Joe!

  16. I respect and admire the man’s service, but his mannerisms frankly portray the image of a semi-delusional oddball and his new money campaign cultivating the “weird” image won’t help.

  17. Boy oh boy…the Arlen lovers and the Rendell money machine is still hard at work trying to hand this race to Toomey.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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