Sestak Defeats Specter in PA; Rand Paul Gives Tea Party Win in KY

Rep. Joe Sestak ended Senator Arlen Specter's three-decade career last night, defeating him in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary despite strong support for Specter from the party.

The Hill reports:

"Specter switched his party allegiance last year to salvage his career, but the Democratic primary electorate preferred Rep. Joe Sestak as its nominee. With 65 percent of precincts reporting, the two-term congressman had 53 percent of the vote to Specter’s 47, according to unofficial results. The Associated Press called the race for Sestak, according to MSNBC, which also projected that Sestak will win.

Sestak's win over Specter is all the more surprising because it came despite the Democratic establishment going firmly for the senator. President Barack Obama helped him raise money, appeared in his TV commercials and lent his voice to a robocall. Vice President Joe Biden also campaigned for Specter."

The WaPo notes that Sestak followed the same path that allowed Hillary Clinton to win the Pennsylvania primary over Obama.

Margaret Carlson in Salon credits a campaign ad for the Sestak win

"His late surge owes a lot one of the most brilliant ads ever made, one vividly showing Specter's double life being warmly endorsed by two presidents of opposite parties. In it, we see Bush calling Specter a team player he could count on, clasping his hands; Sarah Palin and former Sen. Rick Santorum have cameos. In the other ad, we see Obama shouting out the love and intoning, "You know he's going to fight for you." … In the end, Specter turned out to be a double incumbent in a year when it is better to be an incumbent of no party at all. Sestak held his fire until the end. By the weekend, Specter was begging for White House help and he got none, despite Obama being next door in Youngstown, Ohio and Biden in his backyard speaking at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia."

In other news, Rand Paul defeated Trey Grayson in the Kentucky GOP Senate primary:

"Paul, the son of former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, on Tuesday gave a tea party activist a key win in a statewide election that could embolden the fledgling political movement in other states. With 43 percent of precincts reporting, Paul was leading with 60 percent to Grayson's 36 percent.

'It's just a tremendous mandate for the tea party,' Paul said. 'It cannot be overstated that people want something new; they don't want the same old, same old politicians and I think they think the system is broken and needs new blood.'"


  1. says

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it true Arlen Specter hasn’t really been a friend to the gays? If I’m right, then good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Being that he was a Republican for all of his career (that is, until just now) it just proves the point I was making yesterday about politicians wanting to hold onto their jobs no matter what. Arlen Specter would give a public rim job to Barney Frank on the steps of Capitol Hill if it meant he could hold onto his job. He knew he would lose in a Republican primary and so in a last ditch effort to save his career, he switched teams.

    And what kills me is this tea bagger person Rand Paul is being hailed as “something new; they don’t want the same old, same old politicians and I think they think the system is broken and needs new blood.” What people don’t realize is as soon as this Paul person gets into office (should he defeat his Democrat opponent), dollars to donuts he’s gonna look around and see what perks come with the office and become just another politician. Not to mention the “tea party” is not as warm and cozy with the Republicans as they used to be. And Democrats out and out despise them. Which means if this guy gets into office, his intentions may be to “shake up the system” but he will be blocked at every turn.

    Jaded much? Why, yes. Yes I am.

  2. A.G. says

    As usual, this is an informative post, Towleroad. This information is available everywhere the day after an election.

    Since this is a gay blog, I think an additional paragraph comparing/contrasting the two candidates’ stands and records on gay rights issues would have been relevant and appreciated.

  3. JNJ says

    Paul won in a PRIMARY with very little competition. All the other candidates were flakes. He will have a difficult time beating Yarmuth.

  4. ChristopherM says

    JNJ, Paul isn’t running against Yarmuth…he’s running for Senate against Jack Conway. Yarmuth is a member of the House of Representatives. It is true that Paul’s competition ran a ridiculously bad campaign.

  5. says

    I’m sick of this “tea party” movement bullcrap. If Paul were a true tea bagger wouldn’t he have run under the actual party name? He’s just begging people from all corners to vote for him. May he lose in the general election.

  6. JNJ says

    @ Christopherm – yes, my apologies. I’ve got too many political names in my head today.

  7. John says

    Admiral Sestak has always been a friend of LGBT causes. He spoke out forcefully against DADT in private when he was still in the military. And along with Rep. Patrick Murphy, he has been one of its most vocal opponents of the policy in Congress. He’s full speed ahead on everything else as well. This includes unqualified support for same-sex marriage, which he calls “the civil rights test of our generation.”

    Arlen Specter is a little more difficult to define. As is the case with most Washington insiders (Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, Obama, etc), his support for LGBT rights is not 100% and definitely conditional. At the end of the day, Specter often votes in favor of the gays. But he also goes to great lengths to keep it a secret. He’ll tout his support for civil unions and then emphasize that he’s against same-sex marriage.

    Specter is probably a better legislator than Sestak.

    But Sestak is plain spoken, which makes him more “populist” and “folksy.”

  8. Bill Perdue says

    The chickens are coming home to roost.

    For decades Democrat and Republican lawmakers have joined in a bipartisan attack on the standard of living of working people, small farmers, independent truckers, etc.

    Clintons NAFTA, Carter, Clinton and Bush’s deregulation, Reagan’s job export and Reagan and Obama’s union busting created widespread pauperization, wrecking the economy. They produced unemployment figures not seen since the earlier depression – 17.1% for April, 2010 – and widespread homelessness.

    Now Democrats and Republicans are beginning to pay the price. Economic collapse is creating widespread radicalization and deep social and political polarization. Class warfare by the looter class creates class warfare by workers. People are moving hard to the left and hard to the right.

    The Republicans, one way or another, will fall to the Teabaggers, most likely by being taken over. As Republicans move further to the right, Democrat-Dixiecrats will follow suit.

    For right wing parties like the Democrats and Republicans there’s nowhere to go. But for the left the opportunities for mass action and independent political action are just beginning.

  9. Rodney says

    Yesterday was a good day to be a Democrat. Blue Dog Blance Lincoln is on the verge of losing her Senate re-election bid to the more liberal Bill Halter.
    Joe Sestak proved you can’t fool us, Specter. You said yourself. You were only a Dem because it was convenient. Well, the voters have spoken and, rather than send you back to D.C., we went with a candidate who’s a “D” because of it aligns with his world-view.
    Finally, TY TY TY to Kentucky Republicans for sending Paul to the General Election. Jack Conway should defeat him easily- give the party a +1.

    P.S. @John: When exactly does a representative become an insider? As soon as we send them there or later?

  10. Paul R says

    Gross. I haven’t been following the primaries this year so I hadn’t seen his full name…but I just realized that “libertarian” Ron Paul almost certainly named his son after Ayn Rand.