Alan Kessler has shaken the money trees for President Bill Clinton, Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and countless other Democrats, notably former Gov. Ed Rendell.
Now the Democratic powerbroker and Center City lawyer is co-sponsoring a $5,200-a-ticket fundraiser July 9 for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. And the Democrats’ 2010 nominee, who wants a rematch with Toomey in three years, is not too happy about it.
“We need more Pat Toomeys,” Kessler said. “Time and time again he has reached across the aisle to work with Democrats and do what people are looking for: someone who goes to Washington and gets things done.”
The fundraiser is scheduled to be held at the home of David L. Cohen, the Comcast executive vice president and former chief of staff to then-Mayor Ed Rendell in the 1990s. Cohen is perhaps the most prominent name among the group of Pennsylvania Democratic bigs who are helping Toomey with fundraising.
In January, Cohen hosted an event at his Mt. Airy home that riased $200,000 for Gov. Corbett (R).
Kessler praised, in particular, Toomey’s recent sponsorship of legislation expanding background checks to firearms sales at gun shows, which was blocked by intense opposition from the NRA and other gun rights groups. “He was willing to step out, and he ticked off a lot of his base,” Kessler said. “It was almost as if he was treading on hallowed ground.”
He said he is getting a strong response from Democrats he’s soliciting to contribute to the event. Kessler said he disagrees with Toomey on most issues but believes it is important to have Republicans in Washington that can work with the opposition party to the benefit of Pennsylvania, much as the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R) did.
Sestak, who was the party’s Senate nominee in 2010, attacked in a June 24 email to supporters the leading Democrats who are raising money for his potential opponent. Sestak asked for donations to “cancel out” the cash to be raised for Toomey.
“There’s nothing wrong with people making their choice; and the powerbroker made his,” the email said, referring to Cohen. “But we are asking you to clearly show your choice. While Senator Toomey is being supported by SuperPACs and special interests, Admiral Sestak wants to be supported by you.”
Sestak, 61, was the party’s Senate nominee in 2010, and he recently announced an exploratory committee for a rematch in 2016.