Latrobe, Pennsylvania — Rep. Joe Sestak ran a very powerful campaign during the Pennsylvania primary race that allowed him to defeat the Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Spector. Sestak won primarily due to his efforts to separate himself from the establishment and show that he was above politics as usual.
In this election cycle, that would normally be a great campaign strategy. In Rep. Sestak’s case, however, the primary issue that he chose to cite was a job offer that was presented to him in exchange for his withdrawal from the primary race against Spector.
When Sestak brought this job offer up, many conservative analysts immediately viewed this not as an opportunity to attack Sestak, but rather as a talking point to target the Obama White House. As the issue began to escalate, both Sestak and the Obama Administration refused to answer questions concerning the offer, specifically what position was offered and who specifically made the offer.
After not providing the details of the conversation for what seemed like a political eternity, it was finally announced that former President Bill Clinton made the job offer, and that what was offered was not even an actual job, but rather an unpaid advisory position on the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
While this may help to eliminate the legal issues surrounding a potential offer, it still does not make the White House look good — as Rep. Sestak is not even eligible for this position as a current employee of the federal government. Unfortunately for both Sestak and the Obama Administration, this explanation will not put the issue to rest. Many conservatives will question the truth of the explanation, especially when considering the time that it took for the information to be released. Those that do not question the truth of the issue will use this as another shining example of the incompetence of the Obama administration.
The question becomes this: When will Pat Toomey choose to exploit this controversy during the campaign? And what effect will it have on the general election? While there is a very large push right now against both incumbents and the incumbent party, Pennsylvania tends to lean left. We have a Democrat in the governor’s mansion and have Democrat senators. President Obama also carried Pennsylvania in the 2008 presidential election. Toomey is a rather well-known name in state politics, however, and he almost defeated Spector in the last Senate primary.
All of this makes a valid prediction very difficult as to the results of the general election in November, should conservatives manage to continue to keep this issue in the media and make voters question the integrity of Rep. Joe Sestak and Democrats in general. If, however, Sestak can manage to turn the race from this and back to the issues that are facing Pennsylvanians, such as job creation, rising taxes, and the current state of the economy, then this should be a very tight race. There is also the possibility that this issue could benefit Sestak if the Toomey campaign continues to emphasize this issue and the Sestak campaign can spin it that they are talking about the issues while Toomey continues to talk about this possible ethics violation, not by Sestak, but rather by the Obama Administration.