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Rendell: Sestak “not cataclysmic” – POLITICO

By KENNETH P. VOGEL and DAVID CATANESE

As the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary remains on a knife-edge a day before the election, Gov. Ed Rendell revisits his state president’s claim that the appointment of Representative Joe Sestak instead of Senator Arlen Specter could be “cataclysmic”.

When asked if he agreed with President TJ Rooney’s assessment, Rendell offered POLITICO his own take on a Sestak candidacy: “Not cataclysmic, but Specter is certainly a stronger candidate for the Sestaks. general election for a reason: the Southeastern Republicans, who have been the foundation of his support for years. ”

“They’re not going to give him up just because he’s changed and he’s going to get a lot of those votes in the fall and not Joe,” Rendell said.

With polls showing the Senate race is tied or single-digit – a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday gave Sestak a one-point lead – Rendell’s comments signal that Democrats once implacably opposed to Sestak could come to terms with the possibility that he could be appointed.

Earlier this month, Rooney – a longtime Rendell ally – called Specter the only candidate capable of keeping the Senate seat in Democrats’ hands, saying: “I can’t say, honestly and true, whether the shoe is on the other foot, that we’ll have the same race in November.

Last year, Rendell used equally strong language to advise Sestak not to participate in the race, predicting on MSNBC: “We’re going to lose a great congressman and when he loses to Arlen he’ll go downhill. political darkness. He don’t wanna get 15 or 18 percent [of the vote]. Joe is expected to run for Congress again.

While Rendell adopts a more conciliatory tone towards Sestak, that doesn’t mean he’s abandoned Specter. He spent the past weekend barnstorming with the senator and dismissed suggestions that the longtime incumbent was carrying more baggage than his fresher-faced challenger.

If Sestak wins the primary, Rendell said, “Well then he becomes the Democrat. And the Democrats are considered the ruling party, so he also carries the weight at that time. ”

Rendell also rebuffed the perception that Democrats in Washington – and the White House – had abandoned Specter, given President Barack Obama’s decision not to return to the state to give the senator a last-minute boost. .

“I think they contacted the Organizing for America group by email – there are about 80,000 people from Obama in that Organizing for America group,” Rendell said. “Among conservative Democrats, the president can also be a double-edged sword. If that was me, I would still want him to come in.

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