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GOP chortles as Joe Sestak takes on Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania

May 27, 2009 |  6:18 pm

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who aggressively campaigned as a surrogate speaker last year for Barack Obama, has decided to enter his party's primary for the U.S. Senate seat now held by 79-year-old Republican-suddenly-turned-Democrat-but-maybe-not-down-the-line-with-his-new-party Arlen "Whatever Works" Specter.

Pennsylvania Democrat Representative Joe Sestak

The president, as part of the well-publicized allegiance switcheroo to near the magic 60-vote Dem Senate margin, has already promised to campaign down the line for his new BFF, good old AS.

So loyal Joe may be outta luck. For now.

And Republicans are chortling, even though they don't yet have a winning statewide candidate either.

A bitter Democratic primary struggle with the president backing a rebellious Republican over a rebellious Democrat would make for an interesting race.

The media would love for VP Joe Biden to campaign too in his state of birth.

And the GOP hopes any intra-party bruises might carry over to the general election in November 2010 and give them a shot since ex-Gov. Tom Ridge pulled out on their side.

Sestak told CNN's Wolf Blitzer today he'd not talked to the White House but intended to enter the Democratic primary, pending a final consultation with his family. No pressure on them now.

Sestak questions Specter's party loyalty. Imagine that! Specter's got about $6 million in the bank and a long reputation. But Sestak's a scrapper, has more than $3 million and ample time to get known better, especially if, as Specter has warned, the incumbent is not always reliable along party lines.

A few months of sometimes-support on crucial administration legislation from Specter could disillusion some of those bitter-small-town-gun-toting-religion-loving conservative Pennsylvania Democrats and maybe cause even the president's schedule to unavoidably fill up except for some symbolic gesture event.

On the other hand, be careful what you wish for. Joe is a comer and even a losing Democratic primary race all over the Keystone state would greatly enlarge his name recognition for who-knows-what-in-the-future with an old-timer like Arlen hanging on.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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