Polls that show him trailing in his race to unseat U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter don’t matter to U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, nor do the polls saying he’d lose to Republican candidate Pat Toomey if he somehow managed to defeat Specter in the May primary election. What matters, he says, is integrity.

OPPORTUNITY OR OPPORTUNIST—That, says U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak, is the choice Democratic primary voters face between him and incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter.

“There is an absolute lack of trust in politicians by the public and Arlen Specter epitomizes that lack of trust,” Sestak told the New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board. “He’s shown time and again, he’ll do anything to keep his job. I think you should stand or fall on your convictions, which is why I’m not running to keep my congressional seat.”

He also repeated that the White House offered him a job within the administration if he’d drop out of the primary race, but he would not say what the job was or who made the offer.

“I’m not going to get out because of a deal,” he said.

He stated that he totally supports President Obama and what he’s trying to accomplish. He would be able to give him better support than Specter.

“I want President Obama to have better allies than that (Specter). This president didn’t win with political calculation, he won with audacity.”

Sestak, making one of his final swings through the area ahead of the May 18 Primary, hammered away at Specter’s party switch to avoid a certain Republican Primary loss to Toomey, and his support for Bush era policies he said ruined the country.

“He voted for the Bush tax cuts, and said he still would,” he said. “Would we have needed a stimulus bill if he hadn’t voted with Rick Santorum and Bush all the time? He said he stands on every vote. Well, he set the fire. So I ask the voters, do you want a political opportunist, or do you want something different?”

Though Sestak brings a near frenetic energy to his campaign, it is somewhat tempered by having to dwell on Specter’s Republican voting record because after switching parties last year, Specter co-opted all of Sestak’s positions on healthcare—calling for a public option, favoring union Card Check, supporting carbon taxes on all sectors of the economy, and amnesty for illegal aliens.

“He voted to privatize Social Security twice. All his defining votes were for (George W.) Bush,” said Sestak.    Sestak, a retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, said he is in the race because he wants to pay back the country for all it has given him.

“Whether my constituents agree with me or not, they know I’ll be here tomorrow working on their issues,” he said. “My office will be open Saturdays and Sundays, and I promise the hardest working, results-driven office in the Senate.”

Sestak said he wants to secure more educational opportunities for minorities so they can access the increasingly technical job market.

“You can’t just be a welder and lay down a bead anymore, you have to know (computer aided drafting) because these arc welders are all computer controlled,” he said. “By 2040 half the population will be people of color, right now, they only own three percent of the businesses. Education is crucial to changing that.”

“If it’s just Arlen and me, the numbers break 58-32 my way. And I debating Pat in two days at LaSalle University. So, this will go down to the wire.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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