May 3rd, 2009
08:21 PM ET
7 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. Tim E

    Sestak had a problem deciding if Obama was a Democrat. He eventually conceded the possibility.

    May 3, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. voter

    I agree. Spector is an opportunist. He is as much a democrat as I am a republicans (sarcasm).

    May 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Nick

    Sestak will say anything he has to...

    While he had all these well founded hopes for taking the seat, they all got flushed down the toilet when Specter changed parties. Now he gonna play the cards he has and try and discredit Specter as much as he can... he won't be successful....

    May 3, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Proud American

    I guess when he wins the next election he'll believe it.

    May 3, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. John

    I wouldn't trust him at this point, but I think it's really up to the electorate of PA. It's likely at this point that there will be a Democrat in the seat after 2010, it's just a matter of which one.

    May 3, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. David

    Sestak didn't complain in 2006 when Rendell cleared the field for him.
    Sestak is a 3-star Admiral and a 4-star Hypocrite

    From Delaware County Daily Times, Feb 10, 2006
    Delaware County Democrats are lining up behind retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph A. Sestak Jr. after Gov. Ed Rendell asked Sestak 's likely primary opponent to abandon his run for U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon's seat in the 7th Congressional District.

    Iraq war veteran Bryan Lentz said Thursday that he will not seek the Democratic congressional nomination in May, but will launch a campaign against state Rep. Thomas Gannon, R-161, of Ridley Township.

    The move was brokered by Rendell and will avoid a potentially bloody Democratic primary between the two military veterans. Haverford Democrat Paul Scoles , who ran against Weldon in 2004, backed out last week and threw his support behind Sestak .

    May 3, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. Marge

    Well, but you have to remember Spector has voted with the democrats in some of the time. Even back when they didn't have the majority. We know that he is/was a republican but he did have an open mind.

    May 3, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. the rector

    Of course obama is going to back specter, he's a company man. And of course he's going to win again, thats the payoff for his cooperation on the warren commission, lifetime work in washington. Arlen Specter is a well connected man inside the beltway and it only makes sense that Obama is welcoming him, it makes the idea of switching sides a lot more appealing to other members from purple states, and that way obama can just get more of his crap rubber stamped by congress. You know, change we can believe in.

    May 3, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Amy from Seattle

    Democrats should never forget how Arlen Specter treated Anita Hill. He is responsible for seating Clarence Thomas in the Supreme Court.

    May 3, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. chuck

    He's certainly not a Republican anymore and he has returned to the Democratic family where he belongs. it must be very good to flee from the RATS.

    May 3, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. Philadelphian Trapped in Texas

    I see a lot of ill-considered comments flying by in these blogs.

    First, to Henry Miller, Cary, NC, who asks "Is there any reason representatives have to identify themselves with some party or the other?" Yes Henry, because they can't win without it. Exceptions like Bernie Sanders in VT or Joe Lieberman in CT are rare. Unless they're very popular "household names", most candidates of either party couldn't win as independents. Not even Arlen Specter, a 29-year veteran of the Senate.

    Second, to several that have pointed out Specter's "opportunism". isn't that part of what politics is about? Specter is pointing out that the Republican conservatives have stressed "purity" at the sake of the party's overall success, and he's right. Now we have a bunch of purist Democrats wanting to oppose Specter for the same reason?

    I said earlier I would suggest giving Joe Sestak an ear. But I would also hope that a real Democrat would support Sestak OR Specter over the likely Republican nominee, the ultra-conservarive Toomey, in the November, 2010 race.

    May 3, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  12. Who's Complaining

    I don't care what party any othese folks belong to. Fact is, most of them are either are too liberal or too conservative when most of us are middle of the road on most issues. I'm tired of so many elections and peoples' votes being based on 1 – 2 issues. Whether you are pro-life, pro-choice or pro-don't-care, a lot of politicians that would have been good for America got shot down regarding how they feel about that one issue. I for one and am all for moderates (of any party) having a majority in Congress as I think that will result in true bipartisanship that lead to a bette America. I know this is unlikely to happen in my life time, but I'm still pretty young. Either way, quit letting fringe groups dictate policy and focus more on the will of the people.

    May 3, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  13. mike

    I like Arlen, he's overcome much and has a good head on his shoulders, but – and this is a huge but – the Democratic party machine in PA should not be able to craft deals of this sort in the modern era under Obama. It's not "Change We Can Believe In"

    May 3, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. Kenneth

    It would be nice to have someone as a senator who the integrity of Arlen Spector. I switched this past year from the republican party so I could vote for Obama in the primary. I felt t that the republican party had lost their way. I have always admired Spector. He has not taken the party line but has voted his conscience. We need people of Spector's character in the congress.

    The Democractic party has become the party of inclusion. I submit that has much to do with its success. Lets not talk of Sestak running as an independant to put pressure on the party that sounds like the attitude that put the Republican party in the position they are in now.

    May 3, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Perusing-through

    Of course Sen. Arlen Specter jumped to the Democrats for survival. The Republican anger over Specter's support for Obama's stimulus package brought the wrath of Limbaugh, Hannity, and the GOP. The GOP was about to politically lynch Specter, and he was wise enough to remove his head from the noose. That is called survival.

    The Democrats need only to welcome Specter to the Party; BUT not make it easy for him. Allow Specter to run in the Democratic Primary free-for-all and prove his “Democratic Credentials” against Sestak, Chris Matthews and other Pennsylvania Senate seat challengers.

    May 3, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. Barbara Ga

    I know Arlen Specter is not a Democrat (or a democrat for that matter).
    I hope the Democrats don't lost this chance to get a younger, more progressive person in the Pa seat. And while we're at it, let's get rid of Harry Reid as the Senate Leader. He has no right to promise Specter anything.

    May 3, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. mark19103

    Specter realizes that the moderates have zero voice in a harsh right wing Republican party. These are the same people who gave us a puppet President Bush and a real President Cheyney/Halliburton/KBR. Joe Sestak is an admirable war hero but that doesnt always translate into a winning candidate. Wait your turn Joe. One more 6 years for Arlen as a D and then its yours for the asking. By then there will be no moderates left on the R side of the aisle and only about 25% of the American people even considering voting the troglydyte philosophy of the survivors. Color us all Blue.

    May 3, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  18. Millie McGuire

    Specter promised his constituents that he would not switch parties if he was elected the last go-around. This makes Specter an opportunistic liar, just right for the dem party.

    May 3, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. mariel

    Sestak is blowing smoke. John King couldn't promote the right any more than he is.

    May 3, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. proud army navy mom

    it was really enjoyable watching the repugs gnash their teeth over Specter, I appreciated the entertainment, but Specter is not and never will be a democrat.

    As far as I am concerned, he is on probation. He has already went against two important issues. I am writing down names and keeping count. He will have to prove he's willing to compromise or bring on a real democrat and not an opportunist.,

    May 3, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Francheska

    I agree with Sestak, Specter saw that he would lose with the Republican brand and he switched to save his seat. If the people of Penn want him, they will vote for him and he will win. But, he will not be a true a Democrat or even a vote to count on when the Democrats need him.

    May 3, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Bob

    I am a registered Democrat in PA.

    Please run, Mr. Sestak. You have a lot of votes waiting for you.

    Specter is a Republican, period. We are a very blue state now. We need a real Democrat.

    May 3, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Bob

    I was told there are rules in PA to keep him from pulling a Lieberman if he loses in the Dem primary.

    While I agree, he is a brand name in PA now, with lots of older voters and he would win in a general, but he can be eliminated by Dem primary voters.

    May 3, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. Chipster

    Specter has always been an independent thinker who puts his country ahead of the Party and personal interests. He has expressed concerns about constitutional abuses and irresponsible economic policies, only to be ridiculed by members of his former Party. I supported him a before he changed parties and plan to support him again. He wants to continue to server and I respect his honesty about his poor chances with the GOP.

    May 3, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  25. Bev

    This is the perfect example of why we need term limits for congressmen and senators. Do politicians not need to listen to the people who vote for them anymore? Pelosi said that she "knew what was good for people even if they didn't"...which is pretty arrogant in my book. Now Specter, instead of listening to the people who have supported him his entire career, has decided that they don't know what's best so he'll cheat and go to the other side to stay in office. How blatantly power-hungry does one have to be to not see that? Guess what? You're going to get yourself put out on your rear and not only will you have alienated the Republicans who gave you more than you probably will retire as a has-been traitor who lost the bet and both sides will be laughing at you.

    May 3, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
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