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With Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primaries on a knife edge the day before the election, Governor Ed Rendell is rolling back his state party leader’s claim that MP Joe Sestak’s nomination over Senator Arlen Specter could be “cataclysmic”.
When asked if he agreed with Chairman TJ Rooney’s assessment, Rendell offered POLITICO his own opinion on a Sestak candidacy: “Not catastrophic, but Specter is a stronger candidate for the general election for one reason: Southeast Republicans who Foundation of his support for years. ”
“You’re not going to leave him alone because he’s moved and he’s going to get a lot of those votes in the fall and Joe doesn’t,” said Rendell.
With polls showing the Senate race to be equal to or in the low single digits – a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday gave Sestak a 1 point lead – Rendell’s comments signal that the Democrats, who were once adamant against Sestak, resign themselves to the possibility of being nominated.
Earlier this month, Rooney – a longtime ally of Rendell – named Specter the only candidate who can hold the Senate seat in Democratic hands, stating, “I honestly can’t say when the shoe is on the other foot that we are” I will have the same race in November. ”
Last year, in similarly firm language, Rendell advised Sestak not to make the race, predicting on MSNBC: “We’re going to lose a great congressman, and if he loses to Arlen, he’ll disappear into political obscurity. He doesn’t want to get 15 or 18 percent [of the vote]. Joe should run for Congress again. ”
Although Rendell takes on a more forgiving tone towards Sestak, that doesn’t mean he has given up on Specter. He spent last weekend storming with the Senator, dismissing suggestions that the longtime incumbent carried more baggage than his fresher challenger.
If Sestak wins the primary, Rendell said, “Well, then he’ll be a Democrat. And the Democrats are seen as the ruling party, so he bears the brunt of the burden at this point. ”
Rendell also pushed the perception that Washington – and White House – Democrats had given up on Specter in the face of President Barack Obama’s decision not to return to the state to give the Senator a last-minute boost.
“I think they emailed the Organizing for America group – there are about 80,000 Obama people in this Organizing for America group,” said Rendell. “Among conservative Democrats, the president can also be a double-edged sword. If I were, I would still want him. ”