The Washington Post

pa2010.com is proud to partner with The Washington Post in bringing our originally reported insider political news to a wide audience of decision makers and opinion leaders across the country.

Close it
advertisement
Ten

Giant Killer

by G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young

Joseph A. Sestak!

A household name across Pennsylvania he is not. Yet Congressman Sestak, who represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District (largely Delaware County), is set to challenge a veritable political legend, Arlen Specter, for the 2010 Democratic Senate nomination. In doing so he is also taking on the collective Democratic establishment including President Obama, Vice President Biden, Gov. Ed Rendell, Senator Bob Casey and state party Chair T.J. Rooney. And equally important he is going up against what is undoubtedly the most formidable money machine ever mobilized by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Who is this guy? And is he crazy? Does he have any chance to beat Specter? And what if he does? These and many other questions occupy the minds of Pennsylvania’s best politicos some 11 months from the 2010 primary election.

Is Sestak fated to play the role of Jack the Giant Killer? Or is he more likely to end up as little more than road kill himself, to be remembered only as the latest in a long line of challengers who tried but failed to topple Specter?

Sestak, it must be said, has an impressive resume. Described by The Hill newspaper as a “temperamental and demanding boss” he is a hard-driving taskmaster. A retired rear admiral and career Navy man with some 30 years in uniform, he is no stranger to challenges. Indeed, he seems to relish them. And he understands the daunting challenges of going against the establishment.

In 2006 he crushed the incumbent Curt Weldon by 12 points in a county infamous for its Republican rule—becoming only the second Democrat to win a Congressional seat there since the Civil War. In 2008 he easily won reelection by 10 points, and he would be expected to hold onto the seat for a very long time. His race against Specter, however, effectively ends his House career. He cannot run for both his House seat and against Specter.

Win, lose or draw, Sestak’s Senate candidacy will have far-reaching effects on both state and national politics. It will force Specter to provide more votes to the ambitious Obama agenda than previously thought. Increasingly, Specter will need to become a solid Obama Democrat to overcome the liability imposed by his more than 60 percent lifetime Republican voting record. Look, for example, for Specter to spearhead the Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination.

In Pennsylvania, the formidable Rendell organizational and financial network will be thrown into action, reprising the role played by the governor in helping to deliver the state to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary last year. Furthermore, Obama has signaled his intentions to raise money and otherwise support the embattled Specter.

And it’s likely to give state Republicans a break from the glaring spotlight fastened on their nasty family fight over the same 2010 nomination. It now appears likely that Pat Toomey—the man who drove Specter out of the Republican Party—will escape any serious primary opponent for the Republican nomination.

But can Sestak win and what if he does win? Let’s take the second part of that question first.

If he can defeat Specter it scrambles the 2010 Senate race more than anyone could have imagined a month ago. Sestak is a true liberal in a state that rarely votes for true liberals. And he is likely to be running against a true conservative, Toomey, in a state that rarely votes for true conservatives. If this happens both of these guys can’t lose, but it is very far from clear who will win.

Plainly this is going to be one of the nation’s most-watched Senate races next year. The key question is whether Sestak can overcome the plethora of campaign advantages now held by Specter.

Sestak’s campaign strategy is already apparent. He will run arguing that Specter is little more than an opportunist, a man with no real guiding principles, and not a “real Democrat.”  And that appeal will work with some. Moreover Sestak is a bona fide liberal with a 68 percent liberal voting record. Indeed, he has been encouraged to challenge Specter by many party liberals, including some of Obama’s strongest supporters.

Some of Sestak’s guns will be aimed at the Democratic establishment for too easily supporting Specter, the former Republican. And there is some history in the Keystone State—going back to Governor Milton Shapp in the 1970’s—of the state Democratic Party struggling to deliver on its endorsements when voters actually go to the polls.

Sestak is likely to run a take-no-prisoners, populist campaign that appeals to state Democrats buffeted by the state’s sagging economy and wearied after eight years of Rendell’s rule. Sestak after all, doesn’t much care for the Democratic establishment. He’s not a party guy, but a career naval man, whose independent streak gave him the moxie to take on a powerful incumbent (Weldon) and trounce him in 2006.

All this said, Sestak’s task is a daunting one. Arlen Specter may be the smartest, savviest and luckiest politician in modern state history. Moreover he is absolutely relentless in his single minded pursuit of electoral success. And his political resources, elaborated earlier, would probably allow a much lesser politician to survive this challenge. Sestak, on the other hand, begins the race with no statewide organization and dismal name recognition (seven in ten voters know little about him). Moreover, he is a rookie statewide candidate in a state that is notoriously difficult to navigate electorally.

Lightening can strike in politics as well as in real life. The economy is likely to dominate the 2010 electoral agenda and the political implications of that are anything but obvious at this point. And the election is still almost a year away. But today the Admiral, despite his many assets, looks less the prospective giant killer and more the kamikaze mission recruit.

He might fool us all. But don’t bet on it.

The writers are, respectively, a professor of Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College and a managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research. Politically Uncorrected, their syndicated column, is published here regularly.

June 2, 2009 at 9:36 am

--G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young

comments

comments [50] | post a comment

  1. Lana Marie

    Jul 10th, 2009

    I notice that it was forgotten that Sestak was supported by the Clinton’s when he ran against the wounded Weldon and we already had a great canidate. Bryan Lentz who was asked by Gov Rendell to step aside for Sestak. The last election he won by 10% since it was a presidental election and William’s (R) was unknown. There is not a progressive that will vote for Sestak that I know of. Even though the progressive’s are not in love with Senator Specter they will vote for him and get rid of Sestak that hasn’t done a thing for the county and is a total unknown in the state.

  2. read this

    Dec 4th, 2014

    I just want to mention I am newbie to blogging and site-building and really liked you’re web page. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You surely have beneficial articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web site.

  3. great post

    Dec 6th, 2014

    I just want to tell you that I’m all new to blogging and site-building and definitely loved this web site. Likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You amazingly have fantastic articles. Appreciate it for sharing your webpage.

  4. good info

    Dec 6th, 2014

    I simply want to tell you that I am just all new to blogging and seriously enjoyed you’re web-site. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You amazingly come with terrific articles and reviews. With thanks for sharing with us your web page.

  5. bingo games

    Dec 7th, 2014

    This blog is sharing the informative information .I have found it very helping.

  6. read website

    Dec 7th, 2014

    I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and honestly enjoyed your page. Most likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You definitely have remarkable articles and reviews. Thanks for sharing with us your blog.

  7. Graig Poorte

    Dec 7th, 2014

    Hi there, simply become alert to your blog via Google, and located that it is truly informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I’ll be grateful in the event you proceed this in future. Numerous other people can be benefited out of your writing

  8. Wade Warton

    Dec 7th, 2014

    I’m extremely impressed together with your writing abilities as smartly as with the layout on your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it your self? Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to look a great weblog like this one nowadays..

  9. go to link

    Dec 7th, 2014

    I simply want to say I’m very new to weblog and actually savored this web page. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You amazingly have good articles. Thanks for revealing your website.

  10. Brendan Chaplean

    Dec 7th, 2014

    Somebody necessarily help to make seriously posts I would state. That is the very first time I frequented your web page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to create this actual submit extraordinary. Great process

  11. Sol Sansoucie

    Dec 7th, 2014

    Hi there, I read your blogs regularly. Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

  12. Brendan Traill

    Dec 7th, 2014

    You made some clear points there. I looked on the internet for the subject and found most persons will go along with with your blog.

  13. go to article

    Dec 7th, 2014

    I just want to tell you that I am very new to blogs and definitely loved your web site. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You surely come with incredible posts. Kudos for sharing your web site.

  14. Jewel Zeschke

    Dec 7th, 2014

    It certainly is practically unthinkable to find well-qualified people on this issue, regrettably you appear like you fully understand whatever you’re covering! Thanks

  15. Marcus Bilsborough

    Dec 7th, 2014

    Might be mostly impossible to find well-educated visitors on this area, however, you look like you know exactly what you’re raving about! Many Thanks

  16. informative post

    Dec 7th, 2014

    I simply want to mention I am just newbie to blogging and actually loved your web blog. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really have fabulous article content. Regards for sharing your web site.

  17. Audrea Mcalary

    Dec 7th, 2014

    It certainly is practically unthinkable to see well-qualified users on this subject, even though you come across as like you be aware of whatever you’re preaching about! Gratitude

  18. Miki Stavis

    Dec 7th, 2014

    Exceedingly enjoyable data you’ll have remarked, thanks a lot for putting up.

  19. Luciano Wyland

    Dec 8th, 2014

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog via Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful for those who continue this in future. A lot of other people will probably be benefited out of your writing

  20. Jude Marcella

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It certainly is nearly not possible to come across well-qualified individual on this niche, yet somehow you seem like you understand the things you’re indicating! Thanks A Lot

  21. here are the findings

    Dec 8th, 2014

    I just want to say I am beginner to blogging and site-building and definitely enjoyed this web blog. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your website . You surely have amazing articles and reviews. Thanks for sharing your website page.

  22. Darrin Komis

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It is actually almost impossible to come across well-informed women and men on this area, however, you come across as like you fully understand the things that you’re preaching about! Thanks

  23. Perry Tallie

    Dec 8th, 2014

    Hello there, just changed into aware of your weblog through Google, and located that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful when you continue this in future. Numerous other folks will likely be benefited out of your writing

  24. Twitch

    Dec 8th, 2014

    CDK Geomatics provides our clients with a complete spectrum of integrated land surveying and consulting services. Throughout our history, we’ve worked to provide our customers with a level of comfort, service and trust that exceeds their expectations.

  25. Fern Kouri

    Dec 8th, 2014

    We really intend to reveal to you that I am inexperienced to blogging and genuinely cherished your page. Very possible I am inclined to remember your site post . You truly have magnificent article content. Value it for share-out with us your website webpage.

  26. Zella Deya

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It certainly is practically not possible to see well-advised women and men on this content, fortunately you come across as like you fully understand whatever you’re talking about! Appreciation

  27. get the facts

    Dec 8th, 2014

    I simply want to tell you that I am newbie to blogging and seriously savored you’re website. Probably I’m want to bookmark your site . You really have exceptional well written articles. Bless you for sharing your website page.

  28. Free Porn

    Dec 8th, 2014

    CDK Geomatics provides our clients with a complete spectrum of integrated land surveying and consulting services. Throughout our history, we’ve worked to provide our customers with a level of comfort, service and trust that exceeds their expectations.

  29. porno

    Dec 8th, 2014

    Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  30. Lorean Mayton

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It really is nearly not possible to come across well-qualified americans on this issue, then again you seem like you fully grasp those things you’re covering! With Thanks

  31. check content

    Dec 8th, 2014

    I just want to mention I am newbie to weblog and certainly loved your web site. More than likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You actually have remarkable stories. Bless you for sharing your web site.

  32. Annalisa Sieger

    Dec 8th, 2014

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  33. xxx porn

    Dec 8th, 2014

    CDK Geomatics provides our clients with a complete spectrum of integrated land surveying and consulting services. Throughout our history, we’ve worked to provide our customers with a level of comfort, service and trust that exceeds their expectations.

  34. Elissa Cichon

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It certainly is near unattainable to encounter well-qualified viewers on this content, nonetheless you look like you fully grasp what you’re revealing! With Thanks

  35. Jared Donaghey

    Dec 8th, 2014

    My Partner And I really have to inform you in which I am certain novice to writing and completely loved your webpage. Quite possibly I am likely to store your webpage post . You seriously have memorable article writing. Admire it for giving out with us your url write-up.

  36. Lolita Gibler

    Dec 8th, 2014

    My Partner And I just want to tell you the fact that I’m really beginner to blogging and really admired your report. Probably I am inclined to bookmark your webpage post . You absolutely have superb article material. Be Thankful For it for sharing with us your blog information.

  37. follow this link

    Dec 8th, 2014

    I just want to mention I am newbie to weblog and absolutely savored this page. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your site . You really have remarkable well written articles. Cheers for sharing your website.

  38. Bridgett Badzinski

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It truly is near close to impossible to find well-aware people on this subject, however you seem like you comprehend what you’re covering! Appreciate It

  39. Neil Gavidia

    Dec 8th, 2014

    Thanks for another informative web site. Where else could I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal manner? I’ve a project that I’m simply now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  40. Melinda Vecker

    Dec 8th, 2014

    I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  41. Rupert Petrizzo

    Dec 8th, 2014

    It can be practically impossible to come across well-qualified individuals on this niche, then again you look like you be aware of what you’re writing about! Gratitude

  42. Cassy Righthouse

    Dec 9th, 2014

    We simply desire to tell you in which I am new to blog posting and completely adored your information. Most likely I am inclined to bookmark your webpage post . You absolutely have stunning article reports. Value it for expressing with us your domain post.

  43. Florencia Clute

    Dec 9th, 2014

    It is actually practically unthinkable to find well-updated parties on this content, still you look like you understand whatever you’re raving about! Thank You

  44. Rueben Goulding

    Dec 9th, 2014

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  45. Tim Eth

    Dec 9th, 2014

    I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You are wonderful! Thanks!

  46. read website

    Dec 9th, 2014

    I just want to say I’m very new to blogs and certainly enjoyed your blog site. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You surely have fabulous well written articles. Many thanks for sharing your webpage.

  47. Madelene Hotz

    Dec 9th, 2014

    It really is mostly unthinkable to come across well-advised americans on this matter, regrettably you appear like you fully understand whatever you’re indicating! Bless You

  48. Chong Nolasco

    Dec 9th, 2014

    It really is mostly not possible to see well-educated users on this subject, even though you seem like you be aware of the things that you’re posting on! Many Thanks

  49. look here

    Dec 9th, 2014

    I simply want to say I am very new to blogs and absolutely savored your web blog. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You absolutely come with very good well written articles. With thanks for revealing your web site.

  50. Heath Popec

    Dec 9th, 2014

    It certainly is mostly unattainable to find well-educated readers on this area, nonetheless you appear like you comprehend those things you’re writing about! With Thanks

Leave a Reply


- will not be published