Rep. Joe Sestak: ‘It is the Right Thing to Get in This Race’

By Caitlin Taylor

Jun 1, 2009 2:36pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., today nudged a bit closer to announcing his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., saying that he’s only waiting on his family to give the OK before declaring his candidacy formally. Sestak has been urged by the Democratic Party leadership — including Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa. — to stay out of the race, in the wake of Specter’s party switch from Republican to Democrat. But Sestak said on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” that he won’t take cues from other prominent Democrats. “It would be disappointing [if] the Washington political establishment of my party — which, and I respect those individuals in it . . . dictated who would be anointed to be the primary candidate,” Sestak said. “And so I’ve moved personally towards that it is the right thing to get in this race, but I’m asking everybody to understand that this is a family decision,” Sestak said.. “This is gonna be an important family decision because it’s gonna be a deployment. She [his 8-year-old daughter, who overcame a brain tumor] can’t be with me on every parade. And so we’re gonna work through this. We have been talking, she’s supportive. And I’d like to make the final decision about a month-plus” from now. Sestak said Specter has “done some good things, but we are in the midst of the biggest challenge this nation has confronted. Specter, he said, “derailed healthcare” reform in the 1990s, and voted to confirm conservative Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. “I believe it’s the future that we Pennsylvanians are most concerned about, and I think we need someone who understands the values of Pennsylvanians, us independent-minded ones, and we’ll be consistent on those defining issues for the future,” Sestak said. “Because it will be a Democratic senator that’s gonna get elected and it should be someone who’s really been fighting for those issues in the long term.” Asked about Rendell’s recent comment that he should stay in the House because he’d get “killed” in a Democratic primary against Specter, Sestak responded: “I respect Ed Rendell, but it’s not about me, it’s about Pennsylvanians’ future.” Though Sestak would almost certainly position himself to Specter’s left, he’s no down-the-line liberal. Asked whether he supports gay marriage, he responded: “I am absolutely in favor of civil unions among them, but I believe marriage is one for churches to decide. However, I’m not vehemently opposed to it, I just think it’ a church issue, marriage. That said, I’m so for doing away with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and [for] equal civil rights.” Click HERE to see our interview with Rep. Joe Sestak. Also today, we chatted with Republican strategist Leonardo Alcivar about President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. “We have a big problem” with Hispanic voters, Alcivar said of the Republican Party, saying that it’s “silly” to try to derail her nomination by suggesting — as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have — that Sotomayor is a “reverse racist.” Click HERE to see our interview with Leonardo Alcivar.

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