The race to replace U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter has become the true ideological contest in Pennsylvania this year, matching up two candidates who take very different approaches to governing. U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired three-star admiral in the U.S. Navy and Delaware County Democrat, has been a solid supporter of President Obama's policies in Congress. Former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, a former Wall Street trader and Lehigh County Republican, has criticized Sestak's votes on key issues like health care reform and improving financial regulations.
Both men hold a certain independent credibility that may prove crucial in this year of anti-incumbent fervor. Sestak turned down White House efforts to lure him out of the primary election against Specter, who jumped from the Republicans to Democrats last year. Toomey, as head of the conservative Club For Growth, helped fund and promote GOP candidates who took on party members deemed too moderate.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released yesterday noted that the race has been neck-and-neck for weeks, though Toomey leads in the homestretch by 5 points, 50-45 among likely voters. A Sestak victory could help Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate as they potentially lose control of the U.S. House to Republicans. A Toomey victory could help his party seize both houses of Congress today.
This has been a nasty race, with outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS spending millions to attack Sestak in campaign ads while organized labor did the same against Toomey.