Specter to raise money for congressman who beat him in Pa.’s bitter Democratic Senate primary

By Marc Levy, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Specter to raise cash for primary foe who beat him

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Arlen Specter, whose 30-year career in the U.S. Senate is coming to an end, will raise money for the man who ousted him in a bitter spring primary that marked Specter’s only campaign as a Democrat.

Specter will headline a fundraiser Monday evening at a downtown Philadelphia law firm for Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee Joe Sestak, a second-term U.S. House member from the Philadelphia suburbs and a former Navy admiral.

The fundraiser is the first political event Specter will attend on behalf of Sestak. Specter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Specter has said little publicly about his defeat, and a Sestak campaign spokeswoman, April Mellody, said there is no enmity between the men.

“He has been helpful all along,” Mellody said Thursday.

A week after his defeat, Specter escorted Sestak to a lunch meeting of Democratic senators in Washington, and Sestak has said Specter was gracious in defeat.

Sestak now is up against Republican Pat Toomey and struggling to gain ground in polls less than four weeks from the Nov. 2 election.

U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania are also scheduled to appear at the private event.

Toomey, a former investment banker and restaurant owner, represented the Allentown area in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2005 before heading the Washington, D.C.-based free-market advocacy group, Club for Growth.

Toomey nearly knocked off Specter in the 2004 GOP primary, and it was Specter’s bleak prospects in a rematch that prompted him to switch his registration to the Democratic Party last year.

Last week, Specter delivered a blistering critique from the Senate floor of the increasing conservatism of his former Republican Party, without mentioning his Democratic conversion or his primary defeat.

A campaign finance law requiring the disclosure of corporate contributions permitted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is one of the victims of partisan polarization in Washington, he said.

“Mainstream Americans must march to the polls this November to express themselves forcefully to stop extremists financed by undisclosed contributors from stifling our democracy,” Specter said. “The Congress is gridlocked, leaving the nation’s business floundering. Fringe candidates with highly questionable competency are winning primary elections. Moderates and some conservatives are falling because they fail the test of ideological purity.”

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