Any publicity is good publicity, right?
Joe Sestak found himself as the center of discussion on MSNBC’s The Briefing with Luke Russert on Friday morning.
Manu Raju, Politico’s senior congressional reporter, joined Russert on his show to discuss Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat, which is up for grabs next year.
Russert started the segment by saying “some Democrats think [Republicans] have got a problem in one potential pick-up opportunity in Pennsylvania.”
The host described Toomey as a “fairly conservative guy” with “conservative bona fides.”
“He’s certainly no Arlen-Specter Republican, if you will,” Russert quipped.
Sestak won the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010, after winning his primary against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Specter had switched parties in 2009 after facing pressure from conservatives in the GOP.
“It’s a really wild dynamic,” Raju said. “Remember, Sestak only lost to Toomey by 2 points in that midterm year.”
While there is reason for Sestak supporters to be optimistic, Raju said there is “some fear among Democratic leaders, especially in Washington … that Joe Sestak just does not run a modern, conventional campaign that you need to run in a state like Pennsylvania, one of the most expensive states in the country.”
“You’re going to need a highly sophisticated voter targeting effort, voter identification, get out the vote. You need to raise a ton of money,” Raju said. “That’s not his skill set. What he’s been doing instead, he’s been walking across the state. 422 miles.”
Russert called Sestak “Forrest Gump” before talking about how Democratic operatives, “who usually stay mute,” like to rip on Sestak. “They hate him. They think he’s awful. They think he’s a weirdo,” Russert said.
The Democratic nominee in the race against Toomey should have a good chance in the general election, with a strong candidate, presumably Hillary, at the top of the ticket, Raju contended.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has also started his campaign for the nomination, but Raju said there are worries about his ability to finance an effective primary campaign.
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro has shot down rumors he was about to enter the race, even after being personally urged by Senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester.
“Harry Reid, Jon Tester, Chuck Schumer, all against this guy,” Russert concluded. “If he pulls it off, more power to him. He would be fascinating in the Senate.”