Joe Sestak Needs to Decide What He’s Doing and Fast

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I’m a bigger fan of the good Admiral than most, and am excited to see that he’s raised a whole mess of money for some as yet unknown reason, but Joe Sestak needs to hurry up and tell us what he wants to do with it sooner rather than later.

The specific problem with Admiral Sestak’s stockpile of campaign munitions is that it could scare higher quality Democratic candidates away from competing for the 7th District seat. If it looks like there’s a chance Sestak might get in, why would a serious candidate waste his or her time raising money and building support only to get crushed late in the game by the popular former Congressman?

If he doesn’t intend to run for the seat, then he’s making life needlessly difficult for the eventual candidate, who’ll have a tougher time raising money because of the uncertainty.

And it’s much the same with the Governor’s race. Donors don’t want to max out to Rob McCord only to have Joe Sestak jump into the race later and quickly eclipse the Anti-Schwartz of Spring 2013.

I enjoy good political drama as much as the next person, but as someone who’d like to see Tom Corbett and Pat Meehan retired in the 2014 elections, I’m a bit skittish about so much uncertainty getting dumped into the invisible primary.

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

9 Responses to Joe Sestak Needs to Decide What He’s Doing and Fast

  1. David Diano says:

    That’s exactly what Sestak did to sabotage the 7th district race in 2012.

    Yes. Sabotage.

    Sestak plans his political moves far in advance, and knew all along that he wasn’t running for the seat in 2012. However, he withheld making an announcement in public and in private of his decision. Potential candidates called him directly Dec 2011 to ask, because they were unable to raise money from donors in the shadow of his possible return. He refused to give them an answer, even though he had decided not to run. The ONLY reasonable explanation is to hamper/weaken them so Sestak can retain his “title” as the only Dem to win that seat in two decades.

    Sestak undermined the Lentz campaign in 2010 (ask people from the campaign for stories).

    Sestak’s out for himself and rarely misses a chance to hurt the Democratic party. In Delaware county, wants to be “the party”. Sestak has repeated demonstrated (and even said on occasion in private) that the Delco Dems are worthless as an organization. But, they do shower him with attention and let him speak at events, so he uses them however he can.

    • Jon says:

      He was still the biggest statewide vote getter in 2010, and almost beat Pat Toomey in a banner year for Republicans. The base still loves him for knocking off Specter in the primary. He may be a bit of a wild card, but he also may be our best shot at taking down Corbett.

  2. David Diano says:

    There were only two statewide races in 2010, and Sestak’s was at the top of the ticket.
    He ran away from the Democratic party label (even taking off of commercials he had run in the primary). His refusal to participate in a coordinated campaign hurt the rest of the ticket. So, getting more votes than the only other statewide candidate (and a candidate he helped sabotage) isn’t really much of an endorsement.
    There are plenty “in the base” who realize how Sestak undermined the rest of the down-ticket candidates. In the 7th cong district, Lentz’s team recruited state leg candidates and election day used valuable man-power putting out GOTV door-knockers, that included the entire Democratic ticket. When they arrived, they found that “team Sestak” (that spells team with 4 I’s) had already put out GOTV door-knockers but with ONLY Sestak, not the rest of the ticket.

    Also, Sestak blew Specter’s $10 million cash-on-hand (in Spring 2010) that could have been used against Toomey. Specter owned the middle and many of us still feel he could have beaten Toomey. And even if Toomey could have beaten Specter, it would have cost the Dems $10 million less to get the same outcome we got with Specter. That $10 million could have helped candidates like Russ Feingold keep his seat.

    Don’t forget, the Dems spent A LOT of money to get Sestak the 7th, and it was essentially wasted on a two-term congressman, who spent his entire second term running for Senate. In his first term, he voted (twice) for Bush’s Iraq Funding, voted for telecom immunity, warrantless wiretaps, funding Dick Cheney’s office and against single-payer health care.

  3. David Diano says:


    But, was it worth $10 million extra for the same outcome by Sestak that you predict for Specter? Also, the loss of the 7th Congressional seat for at least two cycles now?

    Was it worth diverting DSCC funds that could have been used to re-elect Russ Feingold?

    Specter had 6 years of opposition research on Toomey about how ultra-conservative he was. Sestak didn’t attack Toomey at all. Sestak ran “strong” ground campaign, but pitifully weak attacks on Toomey and his conservative record. Sestak’s entire campaign was “Hey, I was a three-star Admiral”. After the primary, he even replaced his campaign’s “Joe Sestak Democrat for Senate” with “Admiral” as the only word on the front, and the word “Democrat” removed from the back.

    • Jon says:

      In hindsight we can say that the $10 million could potentially have been deployed better elsewhere. At the time, the polling showed Sestak having a better shot at Toomey than Specter, and he came very close to beating him. It’s possible that if he’d participated in the coordinated he would have beaten him. At the time, nominating Sestak looked like the smart move. If we knew for sure he’d lose, then yes, the DSCC money should’ve gone someplace else. It’s not clear to me it was a bad choice to spend it on Sestak given what we knew at the time.

  4. David Diano says:

    In my case, it was foresight, not hindsight, as I predicted/calculated (in the spring of 2009) the monetary losses to the party, and how a depleted primary winner would be no match for a fully funded Toomey. So, there were those of us who DID know better at the time. I had outlined the entire cascade failure (loss of Senate, loss of 7th, loss of Lentz in Legislature, and losses statewide because Sestak never has had coattails, even in Delco).

    Also, you didn’t “need to be sure” he would lose to make the call. If Sestak had only a slight edge over Specter in the polling against Toomey, that wasn’t enough reason to risk the loss of Specter’s greater cash-on-hand and Toomey opposition research. Sestak ran far to the left for the Primary and could never recapture the center. Specter already owned the center, and Toomey would never have been able to get it from him. Sestak’s strategy guaranteed he’d be marginalized in the General, with no money (or message) to pivot back to the center that Toomey had all to himself.

    • Jon says:

      I believe we used to disagree about this in the pa2010 comments back then too. I just don’t buy that different messaging or more money would’ve done much. Whoever ran was going to lose.

      • David Diano says:

        I WOULD agree that whoever won the primary would be so depleted of funds (and negative attacks) that they couldn’t hope to defeat the GOP candidate (rumored to be Ridge for a while). As PROOF of my hindsight I present my argument that was one of the 5 arguments on the 2009 “Draft Sestak?” poll at the time:

        Pretty darn accurate.

        However, my argument still stands that an un-Primaried Specter would have been our BEST shot at beating Toomey. Think about all the damage that Sestak caused with his “job-gate” comments that hurt Obama, and prevented Obama from vigorously campaigning in PA.

        Sestak played that up to hurt Specter/Obama. The PROOF is this: when Sestak was asked if he was offered Secretary of Navy job, he just kind of smiled and gave a “no comment”. However, Sestak was WELL aware that he was ineligible to be Sec Navy because he hadn’t been out of the service long enough, when Obama picked Ray Mabus in 2009. The Secretary of the Navy must by law be a civilian, at least 5 years removed from active military service. The rule for Secretary of Defense is 7 years removed from service.

        Sestak retired in 2005, but he kept fueling speculation of a Secretary position. Sestak could have squashed that particular line of thinking, without giving away any confidences, but telling the truth, instead of perpetuating a lie/rumor.

        So, if an un-Primaried Specter ran against Toomey:
        – he would have had more money than Toomey
        – better/untainted support from Obama
        – and help from “Sestak for Congress” on the ticket and Joe saying “nice” things about Arlen
        – Also, we’d still have the 7th and not blown the $4 million Sestak had raised from donors to keep it (and the $2 million spent on Lentz)

        So, the argument: un-Primaried/funded/undamaged Specter vs post-Primary/bankrupt/damaged/Sestak as the best shot against Toomey, clearly goes to un-Primaried Specter.

        The risk/reward analysis was obvious in spring 2009 when I made this argument. The only thing I got “wrong” was that Sestak actually made things even worse and hurt Obama with the “job-gate” business.