Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Penn., says he’s not ruling out a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, according to a report in The Hill.
The second-term lawmaker pointedly said he didn’t care that Senate Democratic leaders hope to clear the field and give Specter a clean shot at the Democratic nomination for Senate.
“Pennsylvanians need to make this decision and not have it decided by Washington, D.C., Democratic Party establishment and I feel very strongly about that,” said Sestak on the “Bill Press Show,” a nationally syndicated talk show.
Specter, a long-time Republican fixture, recently defected to the Democratic Party, citing philosophical differences and, more pragmatically, that he felt he couldn’t win the forthcoming Republican primary in the Keystone State.
Sestak, a retired Navy Vice-Admiral and the highest ranking former military officer ever elected to Congress, suggested when Specter first announced his controversial decision to switch parties that he thought his decision was based on political opportunism, according to a report by Fox News.
At that time, Sestak said further that he wanted to hear Specter make his case to Pennsylvania voters about why he should now carry the banner for Democrats after representing them as a member of the GOP for 29 years, according to Fox.
“I can’t say that he shouldn’t be the nominee,” said Sestak. “I just don’t know. It’s wait and see. If he’s got it, that’s great.”
With his latest comments to Bill Press, Sestak looks more and more as if he is seriously jockeying for the position of wily outsider -- a candidate not willing to bend to the wishes of distant party leaders in Washington.
It’s a role for which he has some practice.
When he first ran for Congress, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already settled on another candidate and tried to dissuade him from running, according to Fox News.
According to the Hill report, however, those very forces that Sestak rebels against are busy closing ranks behind Specter.
President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have already vowed to raise money for Specter and campaign for him during the 2010 Democratic primary.
Furthermore, Specter recently told reporters that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) was working to convene a meeting of leaders in the nation’s capital to ramp-up party backing for the senior senator, according to The Hill.
In the meantime, Sestak wants it known that he will not be discouraged or run off. “I think this just comes down to what’s best for Pennsylvanians, and, boy, are we independent.”
“What’s he running for?” added Sestak. “There are critical issues facing our nation, from healthcare to how do we take care of education.”
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