May 3rd, 2009
08:21 PM ET
4 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. Doug

    The senator should retire and blow away quietly. The next senator from Pa. should be a popularly voted by the people, not handpicked by obama.

    May 3, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. vicky

    Specter serves his constituents, not the republican or democratic party, he always has, look at his voting record. That is why the people in Pennsylvania have elected him all these time and why we will again. Pennsylvania may be a "blue" state, but it is a moderate "blue" state. We like Senator Specter in our state and if you are not from Pennsylvania you can't understand our politics. I would really like to see our state's representation decided by the residents of Pennsylvania, not politicians from either party.

    Sestak may be planning to run against Specter, but it is doubtful he will prevail over a known entity.

    May 3, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Martin

    He may not be a Democrat. He is not a Republican. He is a career politician that just can't accept losing his "Precious" seat.

    May 3, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Joanna

    Sestak is a wonderful congressman. He does really great things for our area and has a wide following. But with that being said, i think he should Waite to run next time. Lets honor Specters moderation and goodwill. He has always put our state first, not his party. But that was increasing difficult with the currant GOP. I invite good honest debate based in fact and reality. We haven't had that in a long time people. Even if its within our own democratic party. That is how the country succeeds and how we get good balance well thought out policy. Not these half measures that we have had.

    May 3, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. ken

    He isn't part of the Democratic party. He's party of the 'what's my best change of getting elected party'.

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

    Give me a break. Switching parties isn't 'treason'. Grow up.

    May 3, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. Lynn

    I can't vote in Penn. but I hope Democrats there will watch Spector closely and if does not support health care reform go with a younger, more forward thinking candidate. If Spector didn't want to support the basic policies of the Democratic Party, he should have manned up and turned Independent.

    In fact there should be term limits. He will be at least 80 when he runs making him 86 at the end of his term if he is elected.

    Spector is using his defection like his moment in the sun and shows the elderly's confusion of what the heck he stands for and the "power" he seems to want to weild over both parties and the country. Pres. Obama and the Democratic Party should have no more loyalty to Spector than the voters do!

    May 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. posey N.C.

    I hope Alan Spector does not win any primary. He aways acted like a liberal anyway. The republican party should be glad he is gone. He will come crawling back if he can't win as a liberal.

    May 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. gary davis

    If Sestak runs against Specter I will probably vote for him .

    he has a good background and is very good at describing what he wants to see world wide, and Spector probably changes his party because his people have changed parties ..he is smart to switch parties but it is too little to late.

    May 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Jackson in VA

    Specter is a weasly politician... that is why he switched to the Democratic party. Good luck with all that!

    May 3, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. JonDie

    Pennsylvanians, not Republican or Democratic leaders, or even Arlen Specter, will decide who gets the seat. Politicians seem to think they are so important that they will live forever in their cherished place of privilege.

    The major downside to Specter is that he did rubber-stamp most of Bush's disastrous economic and military policies from 2001 to 2009, the same way Toomey did or would have.

    Given Specter's age, a different and younger candidate (e.g., Sestak) certainly would be a plus.

    May 3, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Pete Collins

    He says he won't support the president's agenda, but he wants to claim to be a Democrat. He should BE independent of the Obama money tree. Let his money come from "independency-land" cause I'm not giving him one cent. I'll contribute to and vote for a Pennsylvania senator who WILL support the agenda we put Obama in office to enact.

    May 3, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. marcus

    the democratic party would be fools to have arlen specter as their senatorial nominee. he offers absolutely ZERO benefit, and all kinds of potential problems. let him call himself a democrat for now. let him vote the way he wants now. and, when the next senatorial election comes in pennsylvania, let the democratic voters there make their own pick as to who they want representing them. the dems owe him nothing, and putting their eggs in his basket is a VERY bad sign.

    May 3, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Seattle Sue

    Name a politician who is not looking out for them selves>

    May 3, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    Arlen Specter is a failure as a human being. When Reagan came to office specter changed from democrap to Republican, Now for the negro-Caucasian he wants to be a Democrap again. His morals are in absolute alignment with those of the administration he admires. He would be a disgrace to a dung heap.

    May 3, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Bob

    Spector's only concern is Spector – Not, Pennsylvania or the USA. He's a politician looking out for his our hide and nothing else.

    He was a lousy Republican and he'll make an equally lousy Democrat.

    May 3, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Amy from Seattle

    Rep Sestak should and must run against the two timing Arlen Specter. How can any Democrat trust this man who says that he will NOT be a loyal Democrat and he will vote AGAINST the Employee Free Choice Act and AGAINST Health Care? What are the state Dems and President Obama thinking when they pledge that they will campaign for Specter's re-election bid in 2010? Does no one know Specter's history? Please Rep Sestak – come out now and start running against this Repug in Dem's clothing. He does not deserve to be in the Democratic Party. Let the pressure begin.

    May 3, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Deb

    Senator Specter is a smart man ... He knows when to get off a sinking ship ..... If im not mistaken he was a democrat awhile ago ...So he is pretty much just coming HOME ...........And we are glad to have him back ...........

    May 3, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Liberal and Proud of It dot com

    We have two professional politicians posturing and thumping their chests here, as if the welfare of the nation – rather than their own egos – was their primary concern. Career politicians are interested mostly in climbing the professional ladder, collecting a good paycheck with great benefits, and listening to a never-ending rumble of applause and approval. They have no principles and no goals. Self-advancement is their only concern. We can safely disregard whatever either man says. They don't mean it.

    When the war is popular, they are for the war. When people are weary of war, they are opposed to it. In fact, they act as if they were opposed to it in the first place.

    Contrast these blowhards with Sam Houston, whose resume is incomparable in American history. He served twice in the House of Representatives from Tennessee, once Governor of Tennessee, Ambassador FROM the Indian Nations to the Federal Government, Commander in Chief of the Army of Texas (his tactics are still taught at West Point), twice President of the Republic of Texas, twice Senator from the State of Texas, and twice Governor of the State of Texas. When Texans were all afire with the desire to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy, Houston opposed them despite their threat to kick him out of office, which the fools did. How much better off Texans would have been if they had followed a man of principle instead of men who lean with every wind.

    May 3, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. ma tulley

    Sen. Spector personifies much of what is wrong with contemporary American politics and politicians. I followed the media coverage of his "switch" for much of the 24-hour news cycle in which this story broke, and not once did I hear him say anything about wanting to better represent the people of Pennsylvania, or how his decision might benefit the citizens of that state. Rather, his sole motivation appears to be that he will do whatever necessary to keep his seat. This guy is a scoundrel without principles, and I sincerely hope the voters of PA throw the rascal out, replace him with some much-needed new blood in the Senate, and send a strong signal to Arlen's "professional politician" cronies inside the beltway that American voters are not as stupid as many of them seem to believe.

    May 3, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Charles from Atlanta

    Democratic party is a party of tolerance. Unlike GOP, if you don't get blessed by Limbaugh, then you're not Republican. Welcome to be a Democrat, Senator Spector!!

    May 3, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. w.l. jones

    Durning the Pres. election you know who put to much dirt in the Repub. water where only trash fish bite, so Senator Specter move to cleaner water. Said enough.

    May 3, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. prosanto, Phoenix

    Sen Specter should be challenged in Democratic primary to make sure he has truly a convert in principle and not for convenience.

    May 3, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Michael

    Rep. Sestak,

    If you do choose to run, though I live in the State of Florida I will send you a contribution. I will do this for two reasons. 1) – I believe in you. 2) I do not believe in Spector.

    May 3, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Sparky

    Specter is running for his sixth term in the Senate. In EVERY instance, the Republican party has run someone against him in the primary. Name one other senator that has endured that crap from his own party. Why wouldn't he leave?

    May 3, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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