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. Jon

    Spector's only concern is Spector. He switched parties in his very first election so this ploy is nothing new for him. He can mouth his self-serving lines about how he had to leave the Republican party and it is nothing but self serving crap. Spector is a pathetic old man who has'nt had an honest job in 40 years and if he had any honor at all he would do us all a favor and retire.

    May 3, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. Rickymo

    Watch this guy muck it up...

    May 3, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. thomas

    good riddance

    May 3, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  4. tag...

    spector's a snake...only cares about himself....hope he loses the democratic primary....bye..bye....benedict arlend!

    May 3, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  5. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    This should be interesting....Stay tuned

    May 3, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Chappy in Jacksonville

    As a "Southern Democrat," I am happy that this Senator has made the choice to over to the Democratic Party. BTW, there are many Southern Democrat's who are alive and kickin. We are fiscal conservatives and social moderates. Our Party is one of inclusion, NOT exclusion.
    I do hope that Spector is one of many who will be making the
    choice to become part of our fold.

    May 3, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. Dan

    Specter should run independent because he obviously is not following any party's agenda. As a resident of Pennsylvania, I think it's time for someone else to fill that senate seat. Specter is a prime example of the old Washington that is just looking to save his own tail instead of doing what's best for the people he was elected to represent.

    May 3, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  8. william pappas

    Joe-enter the primary–specter is not a Democrat–many of us will contribute to your campaign!! we deserve a real Democrat not a fake egomaniac----

    May 3, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  9. jim

    Mr Spector is entirely right..Reagan's GOP was an inclusive the GOPnow it is run by ultra right wing bible thumping conservatives who have no hope in hell of ever attracting those people they need to regain power.The young will not vote for them. The gays will not vote for them. The minorities will not vote for them..etc etc.Who is left?..Just the old guard and the evangelicals...not much future there..Oh yes there is Rush Limbaugh there is something to hang your hat on!!!!!!!!

    May 3, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. I Am The Great And Powerful Rush Of Oz

    The bitter irony for Specter is if Sestak beats him in the Democratic primary.
    (The race against Toomey will be cake walk for Joe)

    May 3, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. Staks Rosch

    I am in Sestak's district and I like him a lot, but I don't think he should run for Senate right now. This is a Republican district and if he should leave, it is likely that a Republican would win the 7th Congressional Seat. Until he can build the Democrats in his own district, he shouldn't move on to the a state race.

    May 3, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. Really!?

    Its a lot less about party or ideology and more about the odds. Odds of reelection that is... Term Limits. Vote on Them!

    May 3, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. Gene

    I agree.. Specter is NOT a democrat. He's a republican who was shunned by his party for voting his own opinion instead of theirs. Simple as that.

    May 3, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. Just Shut Up!

    Democrat or Republican, this Specter guy needs to go.

    May 3, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  15. Greg

    What some people fail to understand here is that Specter is and always has been a moderate. Many democrats have been voting for him across party lines in previous elections because they like him put issues first and party a distant second. I called my parents who are long time PA voters and both democrats in Specter's district. They were not the least bit surprised or perturbed by his switching parties. They are both planning to vote for him again as they did so many times before unless either party can come up with a better candidate. They both agreed that is highly unlikely since the bar Senator Specter has set is a high one indeed and it is highly unlikely anyone in PA politics can hurdle it. The only exception they could come up with is Governor Rendell who is still highly popular amongst PA democrats and to my knowledge he isn't planning to run for that seat.

    May 3, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  16. JoeG

    Sestak is floating a trial balloon but he knows running will be a huge waste of time and money if the state Democratic Party backs Specter (as it will). There are few states in the country (Illinois and Massachusetts being the most obvious) that are as driven by party politics as the Democratic Party is in Pennsylvania. If the machines in Philadelphia and Allegheny County get behind Specter (as they will), Sestak has no chance and he knows that. If nothing else he is placing his name in a prominent position to be Specter's successor. All other comments here are superfluous.

    May 3, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. William Brown

    Arlen Spector must not be alowed to keep his Senate seat by wearing a Democrat suite and voting the Republican "Big Business Agenda".
    All true PA democrats should urge Rep. Sestak to run against him in the Primary. PA Labor Unions should also support Rep. Sestak and tell their members that Spector said as a Democract he will vote against the Employee Free Choice Act which means he supports Corporations hiring Union busting law firms to keep them union free by tying NLRB elections up in Federal Court for 5 years or more.

    May 3, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. P. D.

    As a woman who lives in PA. I will never vote for Specter. I will vote for Joe in a second. Arlen is switching parties, not for the people of PA, but for Arlen. He already said he won't vote for the Health Bill and he is going against the unions. Go for it Joe! I will vote for you.

    May 3, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  19. Rick

    Spector switched parties for one reason alone – political calculation. I respect a lot of what he has done, but not this. As he approaches his 80th birthday and the end of his term, he should have just remained a Republican and either retired or gone down fighting to take back his party from the crazies. That I could respect.

    May 3, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. Vincent Petrosino

    Let's get this straight. In Pennsylvania, my state, no one outside his district knows who Joe Sestak is. Everyone knows and most respect Arlen Specter who has been on the scene for over forty years. We want another Democratic senator to help Obama pass health, education and energy legislation. Specter was forced to do what he did because his oild party gave him no other option other than to quit or lose the GOP primary. Senator Specter was originally a Dem and has a Dem's heart. And we Pennsylvanians will see ample proof of this in the next 18 months when important legislation comes up for a vote. We need this legislation for future generations. It is time old white male voters thought about our children's futures and not just themselves. How true is the old saying that old age is a farce perpetrated on the young by the old to delay progress.

    May 3, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  21. mike

    What happens if Specter loses the Dem primary? Will he pull a Lierberman to win at any cost? Are PA voters as dumb as those in Conn, or will the PA Dem primary be rigged for Specter? I suspect the latter. Party machines need to be dismantled.

    May 3, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  22. Kyle

    Having Sestak on the sidelines threatening a potential primary challenge is a positive thing. It will force Specter to vote for the president's agenda on issues such as health care where his vote will be needed.

    May 3, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  23. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    I never thought that The Spectacle would ever stand a chance in a Dem primary. O'man clearly bribed The Spectacle to switch, and promised him his support, which was a stab in the back to dedicated lifelong Dems looking for that position. We will now see just how many millisecs it takes O'man to backtrack on that one, once it is clear that Dems will be backing someone else in the primary. Then The Spectacle will be left, with shorts and diapers on floor, going, "but but but you promised...!"

    I love it. The the Reps will then win the general!

    Lesson: don't EVER put your trust in the O'man – he is pure Chicago opportunist.

    May 3, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  24. Dave

    Somebody please help out the dumb guy here. How is it that a State Senator can just change parties when he was obviously voted into that position by the voters with the understanding that he was of a certain party, in this case Republican?

    May 3, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. Simple Truth

    Specter is no democrat but then again who is? Americans are desperate for real Democrats to take on the powerful corporate special interests that are basically running our government and destroying our democracy.
    Republicans are preaching how government is the problem and needs to be drastically reduced, What about multinational corporations and Wall Street crooks? Unregulated big business is the biggest threat to Americans and the future of this country. Government has to at least be big and powerful enough to control business or why will wind up with a financial meltdown.
    You would think Republicans now understand governments role in regulating business but they don't. Of course they are still just water carriers for big business so they are basically just mere corporate pitch men and not representatives of their constituents

    May 3, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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