Senate Showdown: Joe Sestak vs. Pat Toomey

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Oct. 26, 2010

Share this Story:

Other than a self-professed love of their country, Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey have perhaps nothing in common. Which is why their battle for Pennsylvania isn’t just a fight for the next six years of our Senate representation. It’s a battle for the state’s soul.

Pennsylvania, classically a toss-up in the very blue Northeast, hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. The last time we voted for a senator, Rick Santorum lost by almost 20 points. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama smashed Sen. John McCain by more than 10 points. With each election, pundits often claim it’s the Republicans’ last chance to redden the Keystone on a national scale.

This time, they may be right.

The beaten path to this Nov. 2 began in October 2006, when it was reported that embattled and corruption-ridden Republican Rep. Curt Weldon, representing Pennsylvania’s 7th District since 1987, was under investigation by the FBI. Weldon was being looked at for his involvement with a Serbian company formerly connected with mass murderer Slobodan Milosevic. Less than a month later, Sestak, a vice admiral in the Navy, would win the race by almost nine points, becoming the highest-ranking military member serving in Congress.

Around that same time, Pat Toomey, a former congressman from Pennsylvania’s 15th District, was still warming up his seat as president of the Club For Growth, a libertarian political action committee that advocates conservative principles. Toomey earned a 97 percent congressional rating from the American Conservative Union and a 13 percent lifetime rating on civil rights from the American Civil Liberties Union during his time in congress.

For nearly four years, Sestak and Toomey would have almost nothing to do with one another. Sen. Arlen Specter changed all that, of course. Admittedly afraid of facing Toomey in the 2010 Republican primary, Specter switched parties, thinking he’d win over Democrats for the nomination. Wrong.

The country’s general dissatisfaction with the Obama administration have kept Sestak down anywhere from 3 to 10 points throughout the fall. But the Democrat’s ad campaign has been fierce. An ad released in early October titled “Not On Our Side” features his new opponent alongside the same suspects he used to beat Specter: Sarah Palin and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Sestak has been surging ever since, even though the most recent polls by Muhlenberg/Morning Call show him trailing three to five points.

“Our message is really resonating with ordinary people across Pennsylvania,” Sestak says. “Working families have been slammed, and they’re looking for someone who will take a practical approach to solving their problems—not someone with a rigid mindset that brooks no dissent.”

And this is all in spite of Toomey’s own massive ad campaign, which spans Google ads and is backed by Palin’s endoresement and a war chest with contributions from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint ($309,000).

By most standards, Toomey holds an extreme viewpoint on financial issues, though he has managed to downplay many of them throughout the campaign. His answer to the 2008 market crash? Do nothing. That would have meant eight million more unemployed Americans, a GDP of negative six percent and, according to Toomey’s own words, a “harder down” than the current recession has brought. Lots of Republicans hold this same viewpoint now that Tea Party rhetoric is the rage d’jour, but the difference is that Toomey has always held this stance.

Sestak, on the other hand, has supported every major spending bill of the last two years. “The steps we took were tough,” he says, “but they were necessary to stop the bleeding and get our economy back on track.”

One of those bills was the Affordable Health Care For America Act of 2009, which he touted in his first campaign commercial of the general election, even referencing his own daughter’s brain cancer—and the Navy insurance that helped cure her. Toomey says he’d help repeal the bill and believes tort reform—which would put restrictions on patients’ abilities to sue their doctors—and competing across state lines is the answer to skyrocketing health-care prices.

These free-market competition ideas are the basis for most of the issues in which the candidates disagree.

Toomey’s plan on Social Security, for instance, would “require the private accounts to be professionally managed with diversified investments to minimize the risk,” he told the Scranton Times Tribune. “The money would be shifted to less risky investments as a person approaches retirement age.”

Pat Worrell of Action United, a low- and moderate-income Pennsylvanian community organization, doesn’t like that. She says his plan is essentially gambling with Americans’ money on the stock market. “If people want to take their retirement and social security and put it into the stock market that’ll be their choice,” she says. “But that’s no form of security at all.”

Toomey has admitted in the past that his Social Security plan would require additional borrowing, though says the U.S. is going to have to borrow to pay for Social Security to make way for the retiring age of baby boomers anyway.

Sestak says privatizing Social Security would add $4.9 trillion to the national debt. These numbers don’t seem to have a source, though it has been estimated that Sestak’s votes for the Obama agenda have added $3 trillion to the deficit as well. Sestak also says his opponent’s Social Security plan would force the U.S. to “borrow from countries like China,” though, again, Sestak’s votes have already made this a reality. The Democrat’s answer to paying for his own spending votes, such as TARP and stimulus funds, is “a return to the tax rates of the Clinton era” and an end to the Bush tax cuts.

Toomey did not return numerous requests for comment for this article.

Similar to the last week of the Sestak-Specter primary battle, this race is anyone’s game. This comes in spite of the opposition party, in this case the GOP, historically picking up seats during the first mid-term elections and President Obama’s approval ratings at their lowest average during any time in his less-than-two-year presidency.

Page: 1 2 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 12 of 12
Report Violation

1. JIm Cunningham said... on Oct 27, 2010 at 07:21AM

“Hey, Joe! THe party's over at last for you. You have fooled and deceived people all your career. Your definition of the public interest is what's in the best interest of Joe Sestak and his ambition. The soul of our state can do better than you, a lot better!”

Report Violation

2. Ira Upin said... on Oct 27, 2010 at 09:11AM

“When are people, the middle class, or at least what used to be that majority of the population, wake up to the fact that republicans, now more than ever with their right-right-right leaning fiscal policies represent ideas that do and will always work against the financial interests of the middle class. If the main concern of the electorate in this election is jobs and financial stability, unless you are in the upper 2% you would have to be insane to vote republican. They represent the party of "I've got mine and too bad for you if you don't" extremism. Vote for them at your own peril.”

Report Violation

3. Matt G said... on Oct 27, 2010 at 02:15PM

“Vote for the candidate whose policies lead to more liberty and less government intervention in our lives. Most of us in the middle class, like people in every class in the America home of the FREE, want the government to leave us alone unless we are infringing on the rights of another. Sestak has already voted against liberty by voting to open the door to more Federal Government intervention in our healthcare. By voting for the government to begin owning corporations (ie: the banks and the car companies). By voting to create a "stock market" that trades on our carbon emissions. (FYI - We exhale carbon when we breathe).

The size and scope of the Federal Government has expanded far too much, and Sestak has been a big part of that expansion. Whether Toomey will help to shrink it remains to be seen, but at least he will help to stop the bleeding.”

Report Violation

4. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2010 at 02:29PM

“When I saw that Pat Toomey has a 5 month old child I was shocked. His wife is WAY too old to be having kids. Bringing a child into the world at that age with a high chance of having mongolism for your own selfish reasons or lack of prevention is not the kind of decision making we need.”

Report Violation

5. Donna said... on Oct 27, 2010 at 03:48PM

“Anonymous on Oct 27, 2010 at 02:29PM

EXCUSE ME, but who the hell are YOU to judge when someone else has a child? How DARE you decide that Kris Toomey is too "old" to have a child?

Perhaps you think Pat and Kris should have aborted their new son if he wasn't planned to your satisfaction, or that some federal authority should have the right to make them do so?

You are COMPLETELY twisted and out of line. Seek help.

Report Violation

6. Jason said... on Oct 29, 2010 at 04:33PM

“Why the hell would any middle class person vote for the Republicans? Look whats happened since the right wing elected Reagan.In short, the rich have gotten a lot richer.The unions have been busted, all manufacturing has been exported to China. The Right wingers want to eliminate Social Security & medicare.Tommey-Bush had a big hand in causing this problem. Come on
middle class ! , don't let the Tea Party fool you. The rich don't need tax cuts.
They have all the money they need.

Report Violation

7. Alissa said... on Oct 29, 2010 at 09:44PM

“I'm voting Sestak. I don't understand why people think it's wrong to extend healthcare to those that can't afford it. Full time work was the only way to recieve affordable healthcare until the groundwork for universal healthcare was laid out. Without healthcare reform, people that are un/underemployed do not have affordable access, and there are A LOT of unemployed people right now, due to the irresponsibility of W. and the republicans. Obama is doing his best with what he was left, and the conservative republicans are acting like children by refusing bipartisanship.

Report Violation

8. Anonymous said... on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:33PM

“yo sucker

Report Violation

9. Amy said... on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:13PM

“Sestak all the way.

Toomey is anti-civil rights, anti-fair public education, and anti-environment.
I don't care if Sestak shucks puppies in his spare time - he's better than Toomey.”

Report Violation

10. Eileen said... on Nov 2, 2010 at 08:12AM

“So who can I vote for that supports medicinal marijuana?”

Report Violation

11. Anonymous said... on Nov 2, 2010 at 08:52AM

“If you think Obamacare is the answer, you are dead wrong. The healthcare will be doubled or tripled what it is now and not everyone can afford it now. Plus we don't want the government to run everything. They spend way too much money as it is. We need companies to fight for competition so our prices can stay low. Come on Middle class. You are showing that you are not very educated. Look at the other countries, they have nothing and the government runs them. Wake up!!!! We are all headed to hell on earth.”

Report Violation

12. Anonymous said... on Nov 3, 2010 at 08:24AM



(HTML and URLs prohibited)