Joe Sestak: Party Leaders Have Corrupted Democratic Party

DSCC has spent millions in support of Sestak's primary opponent

Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty during a primary debate in Pennsylvania / AP
April 18, 2016

Democratic Senate hopeful Joe Sestak took a shot at the Democratic Party establishment Monday by complaining that it is spending millions of dollars against him rather than spending it against Republicans.

A week out from the Pennsylvania primary, Sestak is telling supporters that this is a "fight for the soul of the Democratic Party" and that party leaders "have permitted the corruption of our purpose, our mission."

Sestak writes that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $4 million against him even though he still maintains a lead in the polls over the party's preferred candidate Katie McGinty, which he argues is a betrayal to the party's donors.

"Millions of dollars have been given to the DSCC and other outside interest groups for it to be used to defeat Republicans," Sestak wrote. "D.C. Democratic money is now used without asking donors whether it can be contrary to the original purpose of the contribution: not against Republicans, but against another Democrat."

Sestak added that he went to great lengths to reach out to party leaders but was rejected when he made it clear that he would not be a yes-man for party leaders.

"I do not take being opposed by my party’s D.C. leadership lightly, and last year requested several meetings with key U.S. Senators," wrote Sestak. "A senior Senator made it clear what was at stake for them: 'Sestak, whenever I tell you anything, the only answer is to be 'yes.'"

Politico reported last week that the DSCC decided it would work to deny the nomination from Sestak early in 2015 when he refused to hire a party-approved campaign manager. It unsuccessfully attempted to recruit six different people to run against Sestak before it settled on McGinty, who at the time was serving as chief of staff for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D.).

Sestak does not call out McGinty by name in the letter, but takes a clear shot at her.

"D.C. Democratic money is now used ... in support of the D.C.-chosen candidate (their seventh choice to run against me) who got 8 percent of the vote in the race for governor," wrote Sestak, making reference to McGinty's fourth-place finish in the Democratic party's gubernatorial primary in 2014.

Neither the DSCC nor the McGinty campaign responded to requests for comment on Sestak's complaints.

Republicans are happy to sit back and watch as the Democratic primary gets increasingly chippy.

"While the Democrats increasingly squabble over who is the most far-left liberal, Sen. Toomey will continue to highlight how he has fought and won for Pennsylvania, like when he reached across the aisle to save local refinery jobs and combat opioid abuse," said Ted Kwong, a spokesman for Toomey's campaign.

Toomey, the incumbent who defeated Sestak in a close election in 2010, has been able to build up a $9.2 million war chest as the Democrats battle to be his opponent. He has spent nearly $3 million in the past few months on television ads celebrating his accomplishments in the Senate.