We interviewed Rep. Joe Sestak on Thursday night on The Young Turks. Two things seemed to be clear from the interview. 1. He's almost definitely running against Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary. 2. And he's really annoyed at the Democratic leadership in Washington, including the President, Vice President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
You can watch the interview below (we also talked about the stress test at the end):
You can read the transcript here.
It's important to note that my conclusions in the first paragraph are what I take away from Rep. Sestak's comments. As you can see from the transcripts, he stops short of saying that he will definitely run. But here's what he does say:
Sestak: But at the end of the time, I know that this wonderful President said, "Look Arlen, we don't mind a difference of opinion at times." So he will not mind a difference of opinion in a Democrat, because I'll tell ya, that budget of his, when I was over in the White House five or six weeks ago in a group meeting with him, and he said it, and I believe it, that this is the year to retool our economy in terms of health reform and education, and energy. And then have an individual voting against it who has crossed the lines, doesn't set it up well for saying, "No we don't need someone else." Because I'm, you know, we're close to a decision here.
It wasn't just this comment by itself. He kept saying over and over that Specter has voted the wrong way consistently since switching over. He pointed out five key policy issues that he would look to in making a decision on whether he wanted to run. Rep. Sestak said Specter failed on almost all of those issues. That doesn't appear to leave him much choice.
He also said that he was "annoyed," which he later switched to "disappointed," by the decision of the top Democrats in Washington to back Specter.
Uygur: Finally, on this issue Congressman, you have said now at least three times, that you were annoyed by the way it was handled in Washington and that it created more of a fire in your belly over it. Who were you annoyed by, and why?
Sestak: Let me just say, it's not annoyed. I think the better word, if you don't mind, is disappointed. Look we all came from the president, to me, to come down here to change the establishment. And then you had Senators and individuals in the White House that decided that this is our guy, and we're all lining up behind him. No. Pennsylvanians decide that, so I respect their opinion, but I was kind of disappointed that all of a sudden, almost over night, that the one establishment, it appeared, said to another establishment, "Look I know that he hasn't worked in the GOP establishment. Come on over, join us, and we'll tell the Democrats up there in Pennsylvania that we've anointed someone." However, I have great respect for those individuals that made that decision in our party. It doesn't mean after the assessment we need to agree with him in Pennsylvania. This is a decision of us primary Democratic voters.
Uygur: Congressman, the man that the press says is primarily responsible for bringing Specter over is Joe Biden, the Vice President, who had called him on many occasions, and perhaps made, you know, at least implicit promises that the field would be cleared. Is that who you're referring to?
Sestak: Well, yeah. I think, you know, obviously the President, the Vice President, and Senator Reid, they all agreed that this was the right thing to do. And I guess I understand why, from a Washington perspective, they feel as though they might have wanted him over there. And I have respect for them. But, I mean, Joe Biden, what a man of the people, the Vice President. However, I joined up in the military back in 1970, Vietnam War with a sense of obligation. I came into politics three years ago after getting out with that same sense. And my obligation is to Pennsylvanians. My district first was being affected by this. And so, with due respect, and I mean due respect to those individuals, the principles I joined the military are the same ones here. You have to also stand up for those that you are serving. And I'm not sure they're being best served by this decision in Washington DC. (emphasis added)
That sounds like someone who was not pleased with the way Democratic leadership handled this - and someone who is about to enter this race, no matter what they think.
UPDATE: Progressive Change Campaign Committee also has an important straw poll on whether Sestak should run on their website. People are paying attention to the results.