May 3rd, 2009
08:21 PM ET
3 years ago

Sestak says he's 'not sure' Specter's a Democrat yet

Sestak is weighing a 2010 Senate bid.
Sestak is weighing a 2010 Senate bid.

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak told CNN Sunday that he wasn't sure Sen. Arlen Specter is really part of the Democratic Party, the latest in a series of tough comments aimed at his potential Senate primary rival.

"I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet," he told John King on State of the Union.

President Obama said earlier in the week that Specter had his support, with one administration official saying it took the president about "seven seconds" to make that decision.

Those remarks don't faze Sestak.

"The president has said he respects Arlen's independence..." he said. "He'll respect mine if that is the case, I know that."

After Specter's announcement last week, Sestak said he was taking a wait-and-see approach on the question of whether to embrace the party's newest senator. Later in the week, he finally confirmed publicly that he's weighing a Senate bid of his own, setting up the prospect of a primary fight between the Democratic congressman and the party's newest senator.

In an effort to give a boost to any potential Democratic primary challenger, Specter's former colleagues in the Senate GOP launched a new campaign last week designed to highlight the consistency of his Republican record and his ties to President Bush and other party leaders.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Extra • Joe Sestak • Pennsylvania • State of the Union
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. From Sestak's District

    I respect Specter, but it is time for him to step aside. Sestak has far more integrity and would crush Specter in the Philadelphia area, which is where Specter used to have his strongest support. Sestak has much more to offer both PA and the nation.

    May 3, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Ryan

    Pennsylvanians that aren't extremists like Arlen, Republican and Democrat, so Sestak can go back to obscurity where he came from.

    May 3, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. rich

    As much as initially if was interesting news when Spector jumped the GOP ship onto the DEMs, my feeling is this: if Spector is going to be a torn in the side of the DEMS voting in an unreliable fashion, I would rather see someone in that senate seat than Spector who will be a more willing team player. Now, I can appreciate any Senators independent thinking, but independent thinking when votes are so close could make it difficult to get legislation passed. And the Obama administration nor the American people don't need this at this time.

    May 3, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. val

    Obama made a bad deal with Specter. After I heard Spector is not supporting health reform, I hope Sestak does run for the Senate in 2010.

    May 3, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Neva

    The Democrats will back Spector so they can pass their agenda, just as the Republicans did. Both parties are traitors to this nation. As a former Dem, I gave up the party when I saw the leadership of Pelosi and Reid. They are so tied to lobbyists it is pathetic. Spector seems to fit the role of a Democrat. Anything to win and anything to pass your agenda and get more bucks in their own pockets. All the time wasting taxpayer dollars. Obama is from Illinois and the pay to play politics run rapid! Spector is Obama's type of guy! Welcome to America and the government of the politicians and for the politicians!

    May 3, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. A Kentuckian

    @ jojo

    What the heck are you talking bout? The only people guilty of treason are Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Rice.

    Pennsylvania deserves a true Democrat, even if I can appreciate what Specter has done.

    May 3, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Avi Shlom

    Add to spector Name: Opportunist that who he is and his main goal is to make sure that he has the power in the foreign relations committee that No legislations would be pass that is not in the best interest of israel.

    May 3, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Larry Kraus

    I believe Specter is still a republican and will stay a republican. He is no more a Democrat than Jeb Bush (the next republican president). Specter will vote nearly straight republican when his vote doesn't count he will vote with his new party though. he will use those votes as cover but I pray the good people of PA. won't fall for it. Being the #1 Steeler fan in the country I have faith in those that he will try to deceive. The republican party has driven this country to the brink of bankruptcy both in morals and in finance. We need to retire the republican party and it kills me to say that as i am an Independent. We must have at least two party's I would prefer three but we must have two. If the republicans would come out of their cave and listen to the people they would become the #1 party in the land. both the republicans and the democrats vote with their wallets and not for the people. We as a nation have been sold out by both party's when they voted with the banks and against the people there is no way they can hide. We need a party of the people for the people and of the people. Man that sounds familiar where did we see that? till the people have representation we will never get laws that help us and not the corporations and banks.

    May 3, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Specter is like Richardson.....

    a backstabber who will "get his" just like Richardson did.....these weasels never learn that "what goes around, comes around."

    May 3, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Alpha

    Specter is nothing short than an opportunistic guy, he is not and will not be a Democrat.

    May 3, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. John

    You would get a sit in John Kings Program, so long as you are willing to bring Democrats(Obama) down.
    What a sense of outright bias program!

    May 3, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Is there any reason representatives have to identify themselves with some party or the other? Can't they think for themselves, decide issues for themselves, without having their opinions pre-packaged for them by some organisation?

    A lot of the Constitution was written to make sure that no one individual or organisation could wield too much power–the famous "checks and balances" of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Political parties circumvent those checks and balances, to the enormous detriment of democracy.

    May 3, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. TheThinker

    As much as I respect Specter, I want him to tweak some of his political stances if he wants to cement his candidacy for the primaries. I encourage his constituents to mail him, voicing their opinions until he sways to them instead of the insurance companies.

    May 3, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Larry

    Specter is running to represent Penn.

    It has nothing to do with Rep. or Dem.

    Penn. will put Specter in by a big margin ...

    They know a good man when they see him ...

    MARK ... my words

    May 3, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Larry

    Specter will be Penn. next Democratic Senator ...

    Period ...

    All you commenters that only want to call him names ...

    Are not paying attention to the real world ...

    May 3, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. William

    Let's get down to what's really going on here. Specter commissioned his own poll and found that the people of PA are sick of the Republican Party and were going to vote them out of office. Specter listened and, given that he has been considering leaving the GOP for some years now and the fact that his own party was targeting him for supporting the President, he left. Good for him. There will be others to fllow over the next few months. Watch for it. This isn't the first time Spectoer has chosen the will of his constituents over his own political ideology. He left the Democratic Party in 1966 because he felt they had moved to far to the left and were serving only a segment of the American public. Some people are calling that opportunistic. Well if seizing the opportunity to serve your constituents the way they want to be served is opportunistic, give me two senators just like him.

    May 3, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Larry

    Sestak ... is a dead horse ... running

    Period ...

    May 3, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. geoff

    Specter is a turncoat interested only in "his" Senate seat. I am a Democrat in Pennsylvania interested in putting a real Democrat in "our" Senate seat. Time for Arlen to retire!

    May 3, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. reggie

    Specter is not a true democrat, but certainly not a republican either. He is merely trying to pick a side that will insure his reelection. He's an oportunist with no true principals.

    May 3, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. Linda

    Specter has no principle...but then again, neither does Weary Barry,

    GO FOR IT Sestak. You are what the need and want, not another one making shallow promises and doing what they want for their contributors.

    GOOD LUCK!

    May 3, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. kishen c.rao

    either he is drunk or under illusion.....party changing is pretty much common for politicians....wake up....

    May 3, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Craig - Hastings, MN

    The Republicans are rolling out the "New GOP." So who do they pick for a primary spokesman for the kickoff. Why none other than ANOTHER BUSH!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds like the same old garbage to me. Meantime Specter changes parties. He isn't the first nor will he be the last.The Democrats aren't any better which is why I've been an Independent since John Anderson ran.

    May 3, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. anderson n carolina

    Rep Sestak will get alot of support from Dems around the country if he faces Spector in a primary. If Spector votes against health care and card check he's doomed! I'm tired of old white men who refuse to go out quietly!

    May 3, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Peter

    Lets look at the facts: Mr. Specter is a very independent man. He most likely has a 60/40 sort of thing going where he looks left for 40% of issues and right for 60%. The GOP's majority opinion on all issues are no longer satisfying for moderates, and only right wing extremists. While I do believe Specter's change of party has something to do with his reelection in 2010, Id like to point out Specter originally was a Democrat before becoming a senator, so perhaps he has found a "young" version of himself. We know Specter would win a general election, Republican or Democrat, and when you see the others running for the seat, Specter is the only person who is a left/right wing extremist.

    May 3, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Ray

    Spector should fit well into the Democrat party, which is made up of a large conglomerate of thinkers. The Republican party is hell bent on ridding itself of anyone who doesn't take the extreme right wing party line so that they can get back to their social conservative roots.

    As for the Republicans who are screaming that Spector is a political opportunist, I would remind them of Richard Shelby of Alabama, who won election to the Senate in 1986 as a Democrat, safely won re-electin in 1992, then switched parties in 1994 when he felt it was safe to do so. Political expediency is nothing new and will never go away.

    May 3, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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