When we asked Congressman Joe Sestak, the retired admiral who Blue America backed in his successful 2006 run to replace a corrupt Republican hack in a suburban district south and west of Philadelphia, it was to talk about his lead role as the spokesperson on changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. After the 2006 midterms, Rep. Sestak was one of the very first of the candidates we had supported to reach out to this community and ask to come back on and talk with us about the issues we’re facing in Congress. He’s been open and frank, and when we heard he might take on the role of ending the destructive and costly–over $350 million in enforcement wasted–DADT policy, in conjunction with Eric Massa and Patrick Murphy, we were eager to talk with him again.
Since then, however, Joe has been on TV an awful lot–just this morning on CNN and, even more impressively, on Hardball with Tweety a couple nights ago (clip above). This morning, if you follow twitter as well as Tweety, you may have noticed that Andy Stern, the brilliant and forward-thinking head of the SEIU, is meeting with the outspoken Pennsylvania congressman tomorrow, and I have a feeling topic #1 will be to find out if Joe is really serious about primarying non-Democrat Arlen Specter or just trying to pressure him to start behaving like a Democrat. After speaking with Joe on the phone this afternoon, I don’t have a single doubt that he is 100% serious about getting into a primary battle to keep the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Democratic. I fully expect that we’ll be raising money for Joe in a tough battle against Snarlin’ Arlen (and then an easier battle against Toomey or Ridge or whomever the debilitated Pennsylvania GOP decides to run).
Few people understand what Reid, Rendell, Biden, Casey, and Obama think they’re getting by throwing the drowning Specter a political lifeline. Speculation that the one part of the deal Biden negotiated was a guarantee that in return for taking his mangy ass into the party, Specter would support health care reform, turns out to be wishful thinking. He supports exercise and diet, not an opportunity for people to get away from private insurance rip offs–by the very same insurance companies that have donated $1,020,130 to Specter’s political career since 1990, more than to any other Republican in the Senate save presidential candidate John McCain (unless you consider Ben Nelson a Republican).
As Joe’s been saying on TV and telling voters in Pennsylvania, it’s essential that Specter face a vigorous primary challenge. There are no kings and there are no kingmakers in the Democratic Party and this crucial nomination should not be a coronation based on murky backroom deals. If Specter thinks he’s going to be the Democratic Party’s standard bearer in this race he should be forced to earn it–and he has a very long way to go to catch up with a man like Joe Sestak.