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Sestak goes after the little guy in Senate race (Updated)

Sestak goes after the little guy in Senate race (Updated)

Joe Vodvarka was a late entrant to the Democratic Senate primary, has virtually no campaign cash and little chance of making any kind of a splash in the May nominating contest.

But Joe Sestak still wants him out of the picture.

Sestak on Tuesday filed a court challenge to Vodvarka’s nominating petitions, according to court documents. The challenge was unusual in that it came directly from Sestak himself; candidates typically find supporters to file ballot challenges on their behalf. Sestak could be worried that, in a race expected to tighten significantly, any anti-incumbent vote Vodvarka draws would likely come from Sestak’s column.

A Sestak spokesman did not immediately comment Wednesday morning. But the campaign manager for Sestak’s main opponent, incumbent Senator Arlen Specter, had harsh words for the move.

“Congressman Sestak has spent months saying that his was a new type of campaign, dedicated to changing Washington, D.C. and the Senate,” campaign manager Christopher Nicholas said in a statement. “But challenging Mr. Vodvarka’s petition signatures is a vivid example of old style back-room politics as usual.”

UPDATE–Manly Parks, a lawyer for Sestak, e-mails the following statement: “Pennsylvania has clear rules about what is required to be on the ballot. It is always appropriate to make sure that those rules have been followed and that each candidate has demonstrated they have at least the minimum level of support required by law. This challenge has been brought for the simple reason that Joseph Vodvarka has not submitted the legally-required minimum number of valid signatures required to entitle him to be on the ballot as a candidate in the Democratic Primary for United States Senate.”

March 17, 2010 at 8:32 am

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments [43] | post a comment

  1. […] Sestak challenges Vodvarka’s petitions… […]

  2. Montco 4 Change

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Skipper Joe the Scumbag. This is pretty low, what’s next?

  3. Where are you?

    Mar 17th, 2010

    I would too. Vodkabottle or whatever his name is should just run for another office. Seriously you are just in the way.

  4. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Scratch below the surface of this VodVarka farce and you will find Specter money or manpower (probably both) behind it.


    Mar 17th, 2010

    Why is Joe afraid of a real working class Joe?

  6. Checo Dem

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Specter doesn’t need to set up a “farce.” Sestak’s campaign is enough of a farce already.

    This is very low and obvioiusly Sestak couldn’t find a supporter willing to do this for him.

  7. […] it's petition challenge time — Pa2010 says Sestak is trying to kick Robinson machinist Joe Vod Varka off the Senate […]

  8. HateSestak

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Representative Sestak – accusing others of contravening the law? Sestak, who was endorsed by Eric Massa, a sexual deviant who resigned from office rather than face an ethics inquiry? Sestak, who was endorsed by Wendell Young IV, a nefarious labor racketeer? Sestak, who is the target of an ongoing ethics probe in D.C.? The hyposcrisy and sactimony of Representative Sestak never ceases to amaze.

  9. David Diano

    Mar 17th, 2010

    It shows that Sestak (with over $5 million) is scared of VodVarka with zero million.

    Isn’t Sestak the same guy who cried that he was basically being asked to sit down and shut up for daring to run?

    I guess the only voice Sestak cares about being heard is his own.

    I hope we see a campaign disbursement for Manly Parks on Sestak’s next FEC report. I’m wondering how much Sestak is willing to spend to go after VodVarka. (I bet it’s more than he pays is non-sibling staffers.)

  10. Carbon County for Specter

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Bruce you are completely off your rocker. Specter has nothing to do with Vod Varka. You are so blinded by the Sestak game that you would defend him at all cost no matter what he does. That is sad.


    Mar 17th, 2010

    Wow sounds like Sestak is desperate. Making these wild accusations like he has been.

  12. Anonymous

    Mar 17th, 2010

    I have seen reports that Lentz is challenging the petitions of Touey and Conner in the 7th. Will everyone who is calling out Sestak on this call out Lentz as well?

  13. David Diano

    Mar 17th, 2010

    It would be a p*ssy move by Lentz to challenge Conner and Touey, UNLESS they appeared to be engaged in some widespread, deliberate fraud. Going after them for minor technical violations (like voter signing their name as “Bob” when registered as “Robert” or using their postal city instead of township) would be weak and pointless.

    Lentz has 5200 signatures. I’m sure that there are hundreds that could be challenged for minor glitches that were still made in good faith. I don’t think he should knit-pick those types of errors, because he will only alienate the other candidates supporters in November, when he needs every vote against Meehan.

    Now, if there are deliberate, obvious and massive problems like 20% of the signatures being Republican or outside the district, then that would be legitimate to go after (but still unnecessary).

    But, seriously, Lentz needs to keep his eye on the prize and not waste resources alienating his rivals’ supporters and dividing the Democratic party (that’s Sestak’s job).

    In Sestak’s case, the completely unknown VodVarka (who shares Joe’s first name) is an actual threat. Unfortunately, by acknowledging that threat through a challenge, Sestak reveals how truly weak and scared he is.

  14. HateSestak

    Mar 17th, 2010

    In Monday’s edition of The Philadelphia Daily News, columnist John Baer remarked that “Massa for Sestak makes sense” inasmuch as “Sestak’s campaign has been groping too.” Indeed. More importantly, however, Baer wondered aloud whether “Sestak has more unvetted endorsements coming.” More “unvetted endorsements,” meaning additional details concerning Sestak’s disreputable allies and supporters. Those who have questioned the legitimacy of some of my claims (and those of Mr. Diano) brace yourselves: the coming weeks will be excruciating.

  15. JP_Montco

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Tactically this makes sense. If Sestak pulls this off (though looking increasing unlikely), the most plausible scenario would winning by an ultra-slim margin. I could certainly see Vodvarka getting a point or two from an “anybody but Specter” standpoint, which could be valuable. The fact that he couldn’t find some lackey to do it speaks poorly for his organization, and is consistent with the whispers of how poorly run his campaign has been.

  16. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Of course, JP. Did Dems look weak in 2008 when they challenged the Green Party petitions of Ralph Nader? No, certainly not. In a close race, you let nothing drain votes away – espeically a straw candidate like VodVarka who is obviously being propped up by an increasingly scared Specter camp.

    This smells of Specter desperation and it’s still two months until the primary.

  17. fools rush in

    Mar 17th, 2010

    You have to hand it to Arlen Specter. The master. Yoda. He goes from getting the most right-wing people in the world to sing his praises from the rooftops, to getting the most left-wing people to do the same. All hail the master of all pols, Arlen Specter.

  18. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 17th, 2010

    I never thought of the Yoda comparison. Both of them are tiny, shriveled and about 900 years old. Perfect!

  19. David Diano

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Actually, what the Dems did to Nader was not only a disgrace but rather underhanded, because they violated state laws to do so. The ballot signature requirements for independent candidates are draconian.

    March 3rd update:

    “The Pennsylvania state courts long ago said that Nader must pay the court costs of the proceedings that removed him from the ballot, but in order to enforce that, the D.C. courts must honor the judgment. After the Pennsylvania courts ruled, it was revealed that the people who challenged Nader’s 2004 petition had broken Pennsylvania law by using state resources, state employees, and state computers for their challenge. The D.C. hearing will be the first opportunity that Nader has had to present evidence and arguments that the earlier order should be reversed.”

    Bruce, what ever happened to Sestak’s fight for the little guy who wants to be heard against the establishment?

  20. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 17th, 2010

    I’m assuming this “little guy” is basically a Specter sock puppet. Wait and see.

  21. HaverfordDemocrat

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Its a shame that Diano isnt blasting Onorato too, who like Lentz, is challenging signatures on the petitions of his opponents. It gets better everyday, Diano and Hate make bullshit accusations about breaking the law, and then, when someone other than Sestak breaks it, they think we should ignore it. You two are a joke, there is a reason even you beloved Arlen doesnt allow your sorry asses around his campaign.

    Also, I find it unbelievably offensive the remarks Hate keeps making about Rep Massa. Whether or not he broke the law or was immoral in anyway is irrelevant, what matters is that Hate’s comments are blatantly homophobic. You (Hate) are a joke and a pathetic individual.

  22. Chesco Dem

    Mar 17th, 2010

    “Whether or not he broke the law or was immoral in anyway is irrelevant”!!

    I don’t agree that breaking the law and behaving immorally is “irrelevant.” Try telling that to Massa’s many victims over the years. I don’t think they’d agree with you.

    Personally, I think Massa has this coming to him. (And Hater’s remarks aren’t off the mark). Massa is up there with Edwards.

  23. TB

    Mar 17th, 2010

    This is turning into one long miserable nightmare.

  24. Anonymous

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Well, at least Onorato had the good sense to withdraw his challenge against Hoeffel. Will Lentz withdraw his challenges agaisnt every one of his opponents? I guess he was expecting a coronation?

  25. HateSestak

    Mar 17th, 2010

    HaverfordDemocrat: “Whether he broke the law or not is irrelevant.” Precisely the kind of sentiments one would expect from a Sestak apologist! The laws that govern our country are of no consequence – most assuredly a Sestak mantra. You find my remarks objectionable, but it is perfectly acceptable for Eric Massa to fondle the genitals of unsuspecting young males. Apparently Sestak condones Massa’s behavior, inasmuch as he has yet to condemn it publicly. He turned a blind eye to Massa’s conduct in the Navy also, it appears.

  26. David Diano

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Haverford Democrat-
    If you took you head out of your hindquarters (or Sestak’s hindquarters), you would see that I did blast Onorato. You Sestak supporters better take your allergy pills for the “facts”, because when Joe loses you are going to have a severe reaction.

  27. Chesco Dem

    Mar 17th, 2010

    According to
    “Sestak’s campaign says it’s simply observing the letter of Pennsylvania election law.”

    How about the letter of Federal election law?!?

  28. Jeff from PA

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Vodvarka’s web site reads like an episode of the Glenn Beck Show: Against health care, wants small government without listing a single thing he would cut, goes after the War on Christmas, Want to get rid of taxes for millionaires (estate tax that only is for people inheriting 7 million or more), etc.

    Vodvarka is practically a 9-12er… He is only trying to muddy the waters in the dem primary to help pseudo-dem Specter win.

  29. Joe Suckstacks

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Joe Vod Varka Is for the Common Man He has it going on ,on every issuse . Arlen should put his money where his Big Mouth is and Get a Lawyer to Help Joe Vod Varka This Prives JoeSuckstaks is nothing more than a Pawn for Big Money

  30. Taj

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Calm down people…Sestak isn’t “forcing” anyone off the ballot. If Vodvarka’s signatures arent’t valid, they are unlawful. Why should a candidate be on the ballot if his signatures are invalid? I think many of you are taking your anti-Sestak fanaticism too far.

  31. HateSestak

    Mar 17th, 2010

    Taj: The question arises – why do so many people from so many walks of life harbor such ill will toward Representative Sestak? Why have so many camapaign and congressional staffers forsaken him over the years? Why is he now a pariah within the Democratic Party? Perhaps it is because he is a perfidious, double-dealing, underhanded, faithless, unscrupulous, untrustworty miscreant. Nuff’ said.

  32. Lary

    Mar 18th, 2010

    Why even have petition rules. Just let anyone on the ballot who wants to run without the need for signatures.

  33. David Diano

    Mar 18th, 2010

    You would get a hundred idiots on the ballot and it would completely unmanageable.

    There should be some showing that you are a serious candidate and that you have some level of support, by the voters in your party/district, to represent your party.

  34. Chesco Dem

    Mar 18th, 2010

    I believe the more important question is why Sestak even cares about Vodvarka’s signatures. Valid or not the man has absolutely no shot at winning!

    Why is Sestak squandering campaign time and money challenging the signatures? Doesn’t his campaign have more productive things to do like prepare some TV ads, hire some professional staffers, try to develope name recognition, respond to the Massa mess, etc.

    I’d like to hear Sestak comment on Massa. They’re supposedly good friends and served together. Sestak’s silence isn’t doing him any good.

  35. Brett

    Mar 18th, 2010

    The problem with Sestak, is that unfortunately for him, people really hate him and that seems to be the prevelant emotion here, no other candidate spurs on some much vitriol, which means he loses.

  36. HateSestak

    Mar 18th, 2010

    Brett: Exactly.

  37. Sestak Withdraws Challenge

    Mar 18th, 2010

    Joe Sestak If You dont withdraw The Challenge against Joe Vod Varka I will be forced to Vote for Arlen Specter and Joe I really hate Arlen Specter for so many many reasons Please Joe Dont MAKE me vote for Specter cause it will make me throw up all ovwer the Voteing Machine if I have to Vote for Specter and Joe You could Lose a lot of votes If i have to throw up on the Voteing machine cause i live in an almost all democrat Precint so Please Joe do Yourself and many Democratic voters a favor and withdraw Your challenge I really dont like throwing up all over Voting machines but that is what I have to do If you continue your fight against Joe vod Varka

  38. Brett

    Mar 19th, 2010

    Joe wants you to throw up, so get on with it

  39. rplinpa

    Mar 19th, 2010

    Brett… maybe the rest of us aren’t as crazy and the “HateSestak’s” in the group. I will NOT support Specter, but I don’t hate him because he is a weasel, a lier, a sham. I don’t hate him – I just don’t respect him.

    I’ll leave the hate to you guys. But don’t for a moment think we have less passion than you. I’m with Sestak all the way.

  40. rplinpa

    Mar 19th, 2010

    And…. the 2008 sham was Santorum’s operatives financing the campaign to get Green candidate Rominelli on the ballot to run against Casey.

    Specter was part of the Santorum bandwagon back then, so that he would try to do the same by pushing/funding the Vodvarka effort is not farfetched.

  41. Mandy

    Mar 20th, 2010

    I’m embarrassed to have him as my representative.

    He seems to believe that he represents the DNC in delaware county, not the citizens of delaware county in washington.

    Anyone remember when the daily times published a story stating that calls were 10-1 against the “stimilus” package but he voted for it anyhow? Then follows the full page apology letter a day after the vote.

    Remind anyone of Marjory Margoles Mitzvinsky? This guy is a scrub and needs to be removed next election cycle.

  42. David Diano

    Mar 21st, 2010

    10-1 in calls is not the same as 10-1 against, because plenty of people for the stimulus didn’t bother calling.

  43. Brett

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    No rplinpa, I have more passion than you, nah nah nah nah naaah nah, anyway, what kind of moniker is rplinpa. Sestak is going down, Spector is a corner fighter from Philly days, no way will Sestak win in this scrapple, hey that reminds me, I am going down to get some, scrapple that is..mmm

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