Pennsylvania Primary Reveals Sentiments for Change

May 20, 2010 Updated: May 20, 2010

Accompanied by wife and daughter, Rep. Joe Sestak declared victory of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate race in Valley Forge Military Academy & College on Tuesday night, May 18, 2010.  (courtesy of Eric Bontrager)
Accompanied by wife and daughter, Rep. Joe Sestak declared victory of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate race in Valley Forge Military Academy & College on Tuesday night, May 18, 2010. (courtesy of Eric Bontrager)
PHILADELPHIA—All that drama, all those intense TV ads—the Pennsylvania 2010 Senate race closed on Tuesday night with the 58 year-old retired three-star vice admiral Rep. Sestak (D-Pa.) declaring victory over the five-term incumbent Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).

Sestak led Specter by 8 percentage points (54 percent versus 46 percent), or about 50,000 votes.

The incumbent was backed by President Obama, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, and the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee.

Sestak took on the challenge and soared to victory Tuesday night, riding on what observers called the anti-Washington sentiments that characterized the nationwide primary of the midterm election.

The highest-ranking former military officer ever elected to Congress, Sestak said last week in an interview with several media including The Epoch Times, “I am a strong supporter of the Party and President Obama, but I am not a Yes man.”

He added, “They know Washington’s system is broken and career politicians can’t fix it.”

Pamela Buckner, a retired registered nurse in Philadelphia voted for Rep. Joe Sestak into the Nov. 2 run-off election with Pat Toomey, winner of the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania.  (Pamela Tsai/Epoch Times)
Pamela Buckner, a retired registered nurse in Philadelphia voted for Rep. Joe Sestak into the Nov. 2 run-off election with Pat Toomey, winner of the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania. (Pamela Tsai/Epoch Times)
Sestak’s confidence and success is shared by Rand Paul in Kentucky, who won the Republican Senate primary over Trey Grayson. The incumbent was backed by the Republican Party’s most powerful figure on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky.

“It cannot be overstated that people want something new, they don’t want the same old, same old politicians,” Paul was quoted as saying in an Associated Press wire story about his win. “They think the system is broken and needs new blood.”

Being new is one thing. Being true to the principle is another reason given by Pamela Buckner, a Democrat voter in Philadelphia, on why she gave her support to Sestak.

A retired registered nurse, Buckner told Epoch Times at the polling place in Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin House she had good reasons for casting a vote in support of Sestak.

“I worked hard to support Sestak,” said Buckner. “He is a principled man—he ran for what he believed in, not for getting himself a job.”

A 30-second TV spot launched by Sestak in the last two weeks is widely considered by political analysts as a “killer ad” that delivered an effective call-to-action on “Sestak for Senate” and ended Specter’s 30-year career in the U.S. Senate.

Judge of Election Sheila Robinson (right), staff Marlyn Kline (left) with Allan Wang (middle) at the polling place in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin House. Wang served as a translator assisting a group of 30 plus Chinese seniors with voting.  (Pamela Tsai/Epoch Times)
Judge of Election Sheila Robinson (right), staff Marlyn Kline (left) with Allan Wang (middle) at the polling place in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin House. Wang served as a translator assisting a group of 30 plus Chinese seniors with voting. (Pamela Tsai/Epoch Times)
In the footage, the longest-serving senator in Pennsylvania's history who switched parties last year from Republican to Democrat said, "My change in party will enable me to be re-elected." It was followed by the voiceover: “ Specter switched to ‘save one job—his, not yours.’”

“I found too many career politicians are a bit too concerned about keeping their jobs, rather than serving the public and rather than helping the people,” Sestak said in a May 19 story published in the New York Times.

In Philadelphia, the steady rain on Tuesday affected the overall turnout at more than 3,000 polling places. Judges of polling places in Concord Township, Bethel Township, and Center City Philadelphia told The Epoch Times that “it is slow” but “steady.”