So, Joe Sestak has been called as the winner in the Pa. Democratic Senate primary – now gaining nearly 53 percent of the vote, with 73 percent of the vote counted.
Arlen Specter has just conceded crisply from the dais at a Center City hotel, while Joe Sestak’s crowd erupted at the Valley Forge Military Academy.
So the long public life of Arlen Specter, which began with the single-bullet theory of the Kennedy assasination, ran through the Anita Hill confirmation fiasco, included dozens of trips to overseas hot spots, and involved hundreds of difficult policy straddles as the moderate Republican felt his bally-hooed Big Tent shrink and shrink and shrink until his own party no longer had room for him.
His switch succeeded in giving the Democrats a brief, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate – which didn’t produce major results and ended with a man named Scott Brown.
Joe Sestak ran a dogged campaign that rocketed up with the master stroke of his televised ad linking Specter indelibly to George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, and ended with Specter’s own quote painting himself as the epitome of political expedience.
Sestak succeeded in getting a large percentage of the electorate, and a surprising portion of the political press, in accepting his savvy description of himself as an outsider and the “real Democrat” in the race. Interesting, since Sestak, as a former admiral and a sitting congressman, is hardly an outside-the-Beltway insurgent. And, when he ran against and upset longtime Seventh District incumbent Curt Weldon in 2006, he was the ideal “Rahm Emmanuel” candidate – a centrist Democrat with strong pro-military credentials.
Expect Sestak to race back to that middle in his campaign against Club for Growth favorite Pat Toomey, the easy winner in the Republican Senate primary.