A liberal political group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, went live Wednesday with an online straw poll designed to gauge progressive support for a Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter.
More specifically, the effort is aimed at determining the depth of Netroots support for Rep. Joseph Sestak, the two-term Democrat who hasn’t ruled out running against Specter.
The poll, which will remain open for five days, asks whether a "Draft Sestak" movement should be created to take on Specter. The possibility of a Sestak run has been lighting up left-leaning blogs and provoking debate among Pennsylvania Democrats ever since Specter changed his party affiliation last week.
For his part, Sestak appears to be inching closer toward jumping into the race, and on Tuesday said on Fox News Radio that Specter’s switch was at least part of the reason.
“I think that even before Arlen got in I hadn’t made a final decision yet, and I haven’t,” Sestak said. “But I got to tell you that I’m a little bit more concerned now than I was then.”
One Democrat, Joseph Torsella, the former head of the Constitution Center who entered the race in February, has already vowed to remain in the race.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is devoted to electing progressive candidates to office, plans to announce the results of the unscientific survey Monday—perhaps providing a signal to Sestak as to how much support he can expect from the online liberal grassroots.
Adam Green, a co-founder of the five-month-old organization, said that his group’s goal was to “call the question on a primary in general and whether Sestak’s the candidate in particular.”
“Our hope is that this will have an impact on the political environment in which Joe Sestak makes his decision and in which the larger political world makes their evaluation,” Green said. “If it turns out that it’s 50-50 that would be very informative, if it’s 90-10 in favor of Sestak that would be very informative too.”
I back this effort. At this point, we don't know how the netroots feel about Sestak or Arlen and it seems like something we should find out. My personal opinion is that the end run the Party made in getting Specter to sign on was undemocratic and antithetical to the bottom-up democracy Obama ran on.
The party does not get to promise people that they will not be primaried, period. The do not choose our leaders for us. If we had wanted that we would have kept the smoke filled rooms. It is insulting that they would promise such a thing to a Republican apostate (even if it's just a wink and nod that Obama will campaign for him in the primary) particularly one who promptly goes on TV and declares that he is not a loyal Democrat and never will be.
It was widely believed that Sestak could have beaten Toomey who would have beaten Specter. There's no reason to think that still wouldn't happen, except now Sestak will have to bear the cost of a primary against Specter instead of the Republican. There's every reason to believe he could beat Specter and at the very least show Arlen that Democrats are a bunch of potted plants he can take for granted. The only people in the country who love Arlen's mushy brand of conservative politics these days is the village. He needs to make some choices.
So, go and register your vote so everyone can see, one way or the other, if there's an appetite among liberals for a Democratic primary against Arlen Specter in 2010. Party leaders forgot to ask before they promised him things they didn't have the authority to promise anyone so we'll have to do it after the fact.