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Propaganda from PADems and My Response

illusionofjoy's picture

Mary Isenhour of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party sent me (and everyone else on the mailing list) this message this afternoon:

Dear Seth,

Stunned – just stunned. That’s what I was when I heard Joe Sestak on CNN yesterday morning refuse to commit to supporting whoever the Democratic nominee is against Pat Toomey in November.

Before yesterday morning, I could not have honestly told you who I was going to vote for when I walked into the voting booth on Tuesday. Just because Chairman Rooney and Governor Rendell are supporting Senator Specter, I always figured that once in that voting booth, my vote was my own.

But with his remarks yesterday morning, Congressman Sestak not only lost my vote – he lost my respect.

Throughout this hard-fought battle, I have always tried to show Congressman Sestak respect as a member of our Party and as a sitting member of Congress.

But, for him to say yesterday that he may support Pat Toomey in November is completely unacceptable in my book – and as a Democrat, it should be in yours too.

Pat Toomey is bad for Pennsylvania. He is a tool of Wall Street. He wants to take away my rights as a woman. Democrats must come together in November to do whatever we can to defeat him. That includes Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter.

Arlen Specter did not hesitate when asked if he would support the Democratic nominee in November – his answer was a resounding yes.

Ed Rendell or T. J. Rooney did not solidify my vote for Arlen Specter. Joe Sestak did.

Congressman – After all these years, I am so disappointed in you. What are you thinking?


Mary Isenhour
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Democratic Party

I decided to write her back:


Your message is thoroughly unconvincing and it is a distortion of the facts. Furthermore, your scare tactics are offensive. Why should you be afraid of Pat Toomey taking away your reproductive rights when we already have Bart Stupek and Bob Casey Jr. to do it close to home?

Joe Sestak, like any citizen of the United States of America does not have to commit to voting for any candidate for the benefit of any organisation. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Joe Sestak and I are very much alike in that we vote with our intellect, gut and consciences. To put things bluntly: refusing to stump for Arlen Specter before the primary (and we should wait for the voters to have their say, should we not) does not an endorsement of Pat Toomey make.

I've volunteered for the Sestak campaign for months now and frankly, despite myself and how cynical I sometimes feel about the political process, I remain impressed with the Congressman. He comes off as one of the most genuine and caring individuals in the realm of what should always be public service above all else (yet sadly often isn't). Frankly, Arlen Specter is not a candidate I was very enthusiastic about to begin with and frankly, he lost my vote when he came charging out against Sestak with a Swift-Boat style attack ad. Should Specter be the nominee, I will write in a vote of "None of the Above" come November - in a Specter/Toomey race, there will be no acceptable candidates to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate. I have to come to the point where I am uncompromising with my vote and will not choose the "lesser of two evils." Congressman Sestak, however, has solidly locked in my vote - both on primary day and in November.

The Democratic Party is currently on the wrong path, which is why despite my continued membership in the party, I am an independently-minded voter. I vote in primaries in a perhaps naive attempt to correct the direction of the party and hopefully avert disaster. At present, the Democratic Party has not earned my loyalty, as the establishment sees fit to slap any candidate on the ballot who makes a deal with the party bigwigs. I find this completely unacceptable.

If Sestak is not running against Toomey by the time the polls close tomorrow, there will no further support for the Democratic candidate in the Senate race from me. I have better things to do with my time than to back candidates who don't deserve it.

Seth Warren

I am in a powerful anti-incumbent mood, wouldn't you say? I also maintain my registration as a Democrat because with access comes some minute privileges.

No votes yet


S Brennan's picture
Submitted by S Brennan on

I mean where else can you vote against an incumbent Republican&Democrat [Repocrit?] all in one vote? I want to single vote against both parties...maybe Mary Isenhour could come to my state to arrange things in such a way that I too could "Stun – just stun" her like a Tasor set on max.

People Isenhour are slime...just slime...Repocrits suck, I'd love to be able to tell them to shove it like they can in PA

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

as soon as I heard that Sestak refused to support Specter if he won I lost all respect (not that I ever had much use for Sestak).

Anyone who says he won't support the nominee is saying that Democratic voters are just pawns and that they consider the Democratic party a stepping stone.

you know, I really don't care about the Senate primary anymore. The only quesiton is will the single payer supporters running for state office get nominated.

propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

I don't know about Pennsylvania, but in Colorado Democratic Party officers are prohibited by party bylaws from using their positions to endorse or favor candidates in Democratic primary contests.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

Unfortunately, in PA, the parties and their officers can endorse candidates in the primaries, and the PA Dem Party endorsed Specter at their winter meeting in Feb.

This is yet another reason for the divide at the county level, because apparently there was quite a bit of arm-twisting happening at that meeting. I know our county's representative was not at all happy when she came back -- the delegates were more or less told to do what national wanted, and national wants Arlen.

MoveThatBus's picture
Submitted by MoveThatBus on

a word that was spoken in protest against them choosing the candidates for the voters using strong-arm techniques and in your face rule bending. May they reap what they sow.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

This is probably the most divisive race in PA since Obama vs. Clinton, and PA's Dems are completely split at this point. My own county's Dem committee literally got into a screaming match over Specter and Sestak and who should be the nominee.

There were about 3 factions: the "we can't lose any seats!!" group supports Arlen because he's a Dem now (and the incumbent); the "we need real Democrats!" group supports Sestak because he has always been a D and didn't switch parties just to avoid losing his seat; and the "but he's a great guy!! group voted for Arlen even before he switched parties because he was "good for PA, even as a Republican."

Not that I support either candidate, but I can't say Sestak's refusal to support the nominee if it isn't him was earth-shattering to voters here, other than those already supporting Specter. As a result of the 2008 primaries, there is a large segment of Dems who won't support a candidate just because s/he is the Democratic nominee. Instead candidates have to earn our support with their positions rather than the letter after their name.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I was wondering what the lingering effect of the primary wars were.

As I recall Clinton won PA big, or did she just win it narrowly? Since Sestak endorsed Clinton and Specter was still a Republican, how does the 2008 split play into 2010?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I'm guessing Arlen has his own base of support in PA, both Dem and Repub. And Obama supporters - some no longer support him and will vote Sestak in retaliation, and some no longer support him and will vote Specter because they now prefer Repubs, and some will vote Specter because Obama told them to.

To further complicate matters, Obama got a minority of the white working-class vote in PA, but a majority of the urban AA vote. I don't know if that has changed much, or whether it has a whole lot to do with Hillary Clinton.

An interesting race indeed.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

I love your response to that crappy e-mail.

I hate Specter. I would vote against him - even if an avocado were running against him....and I'm not particularly fond of avocados (even when it hides itself as guacamole).

Now hot salsa is another story...yum.

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

This has been true for decades.

The ongoing shift of the DP further rightward (enhanced by the embrace of the lesser-evil scam that guarantees more movement to the right), along with the proliferation of DLCers like Sestak in Congress and the administration, demonstrates conclusively that the corporate-funded DP is no place for lefties, progressives or anyone else who opposes corporate rule with its attendant wars, police state, and growing inequality.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Obama beginning to play "grasshopper" (as in newbie) Party Godfather creeps me out. Schumer acting like a capo (is it?) in NY. Why I think Say-Anything Gillibrand is now free and clear to stay in an underserved senate seat. Why not. We got a say-anything Prez. Birds of a feather ... Chickens.

I liked what I have observed re Sestak, but from a distance. Not clued in to him these days. He did some salons at FDL and was very cool I thought.

par4's picture
Submitted by par4 on

privileges? I don't consider rage and despair privileges.

Submitted by Anne on

represent Pennsylvania in the Senate, why would he throw his support to anyone if he loses this primary? Why not proclaim that, if he loses, he intends to go to the polls and vote – if PA allows it – None of the Above?

Many of you know that I didn’t vote for any candidate for president in 2008; I had held my nose and voted for Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 (it’s the Supreme Court, stupid!), even though I didn’t love either candidate, I had a sense they would better represent my Democratic values than Bush would ever do in a million years.

Fast forward to 2008: first, an Edwards supporter, but he was dead in the water almost before it all even got started, so knew I would end up having to pick someone else. Between Hillary and Obama, it was not even close: I picked Hillary. Was she perfect? Of course not, but I liked her efforts on behalf of those who lacked money and power to help themselves, loved her work ethic and her encyclopedic ability to absorb, process and articulate complex issues on both a small scale and big-picture way (my daughter has a friend who interned in her Senate office, and even though Andy is a true-blue Republican, he was completely wowed by the vast amount of information Hillary wanted every day, and how she remembered it all).

We all know what happened next, but in spite of the claims of some that there was less than a dime’s worth of difference between the two, I saw Grand Canyon-sized chasms on a number of issues, and I was completely leery of this new Democratic Party and this new DNC and the lengths they had gone to to push Hillary out and install Obama.

McCain was never an option for me; his ideas are so far removed from who I am that voting for him felt like just more punishment for me.

So I sat it out.

If Joe Sestak thinks Pat Toomey is wrong for Pennsylvania, and he thinks Arlen Specter is wrong for Pennsylvania, the braver thing to do would be to say, “no thanks – I pass,” instead of retaliating against Specter by actively supporting or endorsing the candidate whose policies he was running against.

It’s time to be brave enough to break the pattern; the only thing that ever happens when we continue to co-dependently support candidates is that the dysfunction deepens and extends.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

as far as I'm concerned. Specter is horrible. Sestak isn't much (any?) better (Susie makes the case against him - Both are essentially corporate Democrats.* Neither of them or Toomey is going to make a damned bit of difference of the good, IMO.

All three candidates, IMO, could be poster children for why the legacy parties suck and why trying to choose among their candidates is, in the long run, a losing proposition. Toomey is exactly the kind of guy who will drive us to hell at 98 mph. Sestak is the kind who will brag about only taking us there at 89 mph.** Specter will go at either speed, depending on what's in it for him. No matter, the final destination remains the same for the rest of us regardless of which one of these assholes is driving.

Although good on you, illusionofjoy, for at least standing up for the right of people to demand representation and vote for whomever they want (including refusing to vote). If it were up to the parties we wouldn't even have the limited choices we have.

* To the extent either of them are Democrats (not that that's all that impressive a label these days), Arlen switched last year and Sestak registered as one in 2006 (insert military officer excuse here).

** Read the 98/89 mph analogy on a blog. Now I just have to remember where.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

All three candidates, IMO, could be poster children for why the legacy parties suck and why trying to choose among their candidates is, in the long run, a losing proposition.

Yes, yes, yes. "2% less evil!!!" doesn't cut it for me anymore.

Submitted by Anne on

people who are refusing to be guilted, goaded, harangued and terrorized into voting for candidates who (1) haven't done the jobs they were elected to do, even if "the other guys" probably wouldn't do them either, (2) consistently turn a deaf ear to the little people, the better to hear the sound of corporate cash fluttering into their coffers, (3) talk a good story, but fail to act accordingly, (4) view women's issues as peripheral, (5) have a distinctly "where else are they gonna go?" attitude.

I can't do it anymore because it doesn't get me better representation or better governance.

Oh, oh - but, if I don't vote, the other guys, the scary Republican crazies will win, and then lfe as we know it will end and it will be All. My. Fault.

Uh, no. The fault will lie with the weak-willed electorate that thinks "but the other guys are worse" is an actual standard worth groveling for, and doesn't demand better. The Democratic power structure is not going to fix itself - the giant descent they made into utter mediocrity and craven self-interest in 2008 ought to be proof of that - they LIKE it like this.

Yeah, so if the current crop of bums just make way for a different crop of bums, well, maybe that's what it will take for things to really start to change.