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Adam Schwartzbaum's Blog

Adam Schwartzbaum's Blog

The In-Specter

Union endorsement just another sign of Specter’s bedrock institutional support

The AFL-CIO’s announcement Tuesday that they are endorsing Senator Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary is just another sign that the state’s Democratic institutions are satisfied with Specter’s newly-found liberalism and believe he has the best shot of defeating Pat Toomey this November.

In all of these endorsements, Joe Sestak is coming off as little more than an afterthought. Endorsements are a way of interest groups betting on a winner, in the hope that these moves will be remembered after the election. Even the mainstream media seems to reflect the conventional wisdom that, while Sestak still has a shot at energizing the liberal base to upset Specter at the polls in May, the safe bet is on Specter facing Pat Toomey in the general election.

None of these recent endorsements are a death knell for the Sestak campaign, if they can foment the kind of populist, grassroots campaign that motivates individuals to the polls on Election Day. But with less than two months until the election, the time has come for Sestak to unleash his war chest and start hammering Specter on television and in radio.

Only with an aggressive statewide assault on Specter’s record in the next few weeks can Sestak even have a hope of winning this primary. With these kinds of headlines of institutional support for Specter dominating the storyline, Sestak needs to shake up this race now if he has any shot of winning this race.

March 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

--Adam Schwartzbaum

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comments [10] | post a comment

  1. HateSestak

    Mar 30th, 2010

    So the question arises: why does Representative Sestak appear reluctant to invest his $5 million in the necessary advertisements? A burning question indeed. Office-seekers who are trailing their opponents by 20% or more in public opinion polls ordinarily would not hesistate – unless they were not legitimate contenders.


    Mar 30th, 2010


    U think sestak is saving it for a defense fund?
    Didnt u mention something about that?

  3. Lee Levan

    Mar 30th, 2010


    Perhaps we all can learn something from the Sestak campaign about running statewide. Do you know, or can you find out, who has made the decision to “save” Sestak’s money until the last several weeks of a nearly year long campaign, even though he is largely unknown to voters? If (s)he believes that this is a winning strategy, (s)he should be glad to take the credit.

  4. David Diano

    Mar 31st, 2010

    Based upon my interaction with Joe in the 2006 campaign, I’m sure this action is coming right from the top. I had a similar discussion with Joe during the summer of 2006 on this very point. He told me flat out that running media ads in the Philly market was going to expensive and he would have enough for only a few weeks.

    The strategy was very simple, compute how many weeks of saturation ads you can run, subtract that from election day, and that’s when you start running ads.

    So, if Sestak’s got $5 million to p!ss away on ads, the question is how long will that last? He’ll start that many weeks before May 18th. Waiting for him to start sooner is a waste of time.

  5. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 31st, 2010

    From Dan’s blog entry, March 2:

    “It’s important to remember who the people running Sestak’s advertising operations are. The Campaign Group, led by longtime Rendell confidante Neil Oxman, is widely considered the best in the Democratic business in Pennsylvania. These are the folks that in 2007, when Michael Nutter was trailing in the polls and his allies were screaming for him to go up on the air, they waited—and waited, and waited.”

    I agree with Dave, that part of this is simple economics. But it is also calculated strategy.

  6. David Diano

    Mar 31st, 2010

    Rendell is against Sestak on this. Do you think his buddy Oxman is going to “give it his all” or give Sestak enough rope to hang himself?

    When Sestak loses, they still get paid, but won’t get the blame because Sestak has no campaign structure and “image” will get Sestak only so far. I’ve met Mike Nutter, and Joe Sestak is no Mike Nutter.

    BTW, there is a difference running in a homogeneous media market like Philly, and running statewide with mixtures of urban, suburban and rural markets.

    Joe has clearly positioned himself as an “also ran”. In a few years, he’ll be the answer to a trivia question about whom Specter beat by the widest margin.

  7. Bruce Bailey

    Mar 31st, 2010

    There you go doing that Swami thing again, Dave. I’ve got Duke winning the Final Four – how’s that going to work out?

  8. David Diano

    Apr 1st, 2010

    Sestak isn’t going to make it to the final two in November.

  9. [...] the desperate party-switching Arlen Specter got the endorsements of Barack Obama, the SEIU, the PA AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and a host of other unions, his primary opponent Joe Sestak passed the octogenarian [...]

  10. [...] posture is paying dividends as he racks up endorsements of big labor including the SEIU, the PA AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and other big labor [...]

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