More good news for Sestak

This time last month,Congressman Joe Sestak was trailing Senator Arlen Specter by fourteen points. Today, Sestak woke up to a five-point lead. That’s according to Muhlenberg College’s daily tracking poll, which has given Sestak a slim lead since Saturday.RealClearPolitics charts all the recent poll data.

A week ago, Muhlenberg had Specter leading Sestak by nine points. Since then, the Sestak campaign has unleashed its ace card — a television spot featuring footage from a 2004 rally, where President George W. Bush called Specter a “firm ally.” The commercial closes with an announcer saying, “Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job. His, not yours.”

Last week I asked Sestak for his final pitch to undecided voters. He kept his answer brief.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party can’t be happy about the polling data. Just last week, chairman T.J. Rooney said a Sestak primary win would be “cataclysmic.

Here’s today’s tracking poll:


And we’re all tied up

The latest Morning Call/Muhlenberg College tracking poll shows the Democratic Senate primary all tied up. It’s a remarkable comeback for Congressman Joe Sestak, who had been written off by much of the establishment in previous months.

Sestak has made up a twenty point deficit since he started airing television commercials. His latest ad highlights Arlen Specter’s long tenure as a Republican, showing a clip of President Bush calling Specter “a firm ally,” as well as Specter saying “my change in parties will enable me to be reelected.” The ad packs a powerful punch, closing with a narrator saying, “Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job. His. Not Yours.”
The latest numbers:

Specter: 43 %

Sestak: 43 %

undecided: 12 %

Finally, the Bush/Specter ad

The latest Sestak ad is straightforward — “Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job. His. Not yours.”

Spokesman Jonathon Dworkin: “This election is about who we can count on to represent our values on the day after the election and for the next six years. Many Democrats are skeptical of why Arlen Specter switched parties after enthusiastically touting the endorsement of President Bush. But there is no way Senator Specter can make his motives more clear than he does in his own words.”

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza calls the ad “the make or break moment of the primary.”

Positive Specter spot

A day late on this, but continuing the ad roundup, here’s a new spot from the Specter campaign.

Sestak, Specter, square off in debate

A bit more than two weeks before Pennsylvania Democrats go to the polls to select their Senate nominee, Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak met for a face-to-face debate.

Scott Detrow reports from Philadelphia.

OFA rallying behind Specter

Organizing for America is putting its grassroots network into motion to help Senator Arlen Specter’s reelection effort.

President Obama has sent a letter to supporters asking them to volunteer for the Republican-turned-Democrat in his race against Congressman Joe Sestak. “He cast a deciding vote in favor of the Recovery Act that brought our economy back from the brink and created more than 120,000 jobs in Pennsylvania in just the first three months of this year,” the letter reads. “He fought hard for health insurance reform, and because of that victory 1.3 million uninsured Pennsylvanians will now have access to affordable care — including more than 140,000 with pre-existing conditions. And he’s been a champion of Wall Street reform and combating climate change, two crucial parts of my agenda that won’t happen without Arlen’s support.” The letter comes days after Vice President Joe Biden stumped with Specter in his hometown of Scranton.

Meantime, Sestak is set to deliver a “major campaign speech” tomorrow — in Washington, DC. It’s an interesting venue choice with three weeks to go before the May 18th primary. Perhaps the speech is targeted at the national media, rather than Pennsylvania’s primary voters?

Toomey jumps into Specter ad fray

Republican Pat Toomey has joined Joe Sestak in criticizing Senator Arlen Specter’s recent attack ad. Here’s the text of an open letter the likely GOP nominee sent to Specter’s Senate office.

April 23, 2010
Senator Arlen Specter
711 Hart Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Specter:
It is a clear matter of record that I have very strong disagreements with Congressman Joe Sestak on many important issues affecting the economy, health care, taxes, and even national security.  But I also have the utmost respect for his decades of military service to our country.  It is highly regrettable that you have chosen to disparage an honorable man’s military service in order to promote your own political career.
Over the years, you have developed a reputation for political attacks ads.  I had not even announced my candidacy last spring when you raced out of the blocks with an attack ad that was so wildly inaccurate it was quickly discredited by fact checkers and news organizations.  You will recall that your ad was characterized by FactCheck.Org as a “scorched-earth slip-up” and you were forced to remove it from the airwaves.
But now you have stooped to a new low, attacking Congressman Sestak’s thirty-year military service.  This is not only insulting to veterans across America who sacrifice so much to protect our nation, but to all Pennsylvanians.  Is there no low to which you will not stoop in an attempt to win an election?
Our state’s Democratic primary voters will decide whether they prefer you or Congressman Sestak as their nominee, and that is their right.  But it’s pretty clear that there will be two different races in the fall depending on their choice.  Joe Sestak and I have already engaged in two spirited, yet civil debates.  Pennsylvanians can rightly expect that we would continue in that manner, which is not only respectful to each other, but more importantly, respectful to voters.  If you become your new party’s nominee, then it appears that Pennsylvanians will be in for one outrageous or blatantly false attack ad after another.  Our state deserves better.
I hope you will do the right thing and remove your attack on Joe Sestak’s military service.  And I hope you will pledge to the citizens of our state that should you make it to the general election, you will cease your brand of negative advertising that the Pittsburgh Tribune Review called “embarrassing.”

Pat Toomey