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Nice try, asshole.

Yesterday Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell demanded that Joe Sestak drop his challenge to Arlen Specter, saying that the party establishment’s backing of Specter would prove too steep a hurdle and suggesting it would end his political career.

Now Sestak has responded:

Joe Sestak has great respect for Governor Rendell — but we have to ask ourselves, what would happen if our leaders only stood up to challenges when the odds were in their favor? That isn’t the spirit that created this nation, led Barack Obama to the Oval Office, or allowed Ed Rendell to become Governor of Pennsylvania when everyone said a Mayor of Philadelphia could never win.

The Sestak response is far more polite than Rendell deserved, and it's nothing we haven't seen before. Remember Connecticut 2006? How dare we challenge Joe Lieberman? He was well respected, well known, a former vice presidential nominee! The party establishment rallied around him, the money flowed, and ... the insurgents won.

Sestak will have the money to compete and, more importantly, the moral high ground. Arlen Specter is a proven weasel, with no principle he won't compromise for political expediency. His record has become far more solidly Democratic since those first few awkward weeks as a Democrat, but that's just it -- he became a Democrat when Sestak's primary challenge began looking more real. He's being forced into voting well. But if he wins his primary? There will be nothing holding him accountable, and he's old enough that it's unlikely he'll run again in six years. With no electoral pressures, guess which Specter will turn out?

Rendell doesn't give a damn. He's buddies with Specter and that's all that matters. Policy? Irrelevant to him. Obama and Biden obviously promised Specter electoral help if he switched parties, and they'll have to at least go through the motions. They'll have to determine how aggressively to back Specter, because the more involved they get, the angrier much of the Democratic base will get. And does Obama really want to go all-in for an incumbent who may lose his primary? That would be a dramatic embarrassment. Certainly not worth the hassle.

Sestak doesn't appear to be going anywhere, so all Rendell is doing is bolstering Sestak's outsider creds. He should feel free to continue doing so.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM PDT.

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