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Specter to face primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak |

Specter to face primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak made his Senate challenge to Arlen Specter official this morning with a speech at a V.F.W. hall in his native Delaware County, and in a video posted on his new campaign Web site.

“I am running to be Pennsylvania’s next United States senator because I am committed to passing along a better world to our children. That’s going to take leadership that is committed to the principles of honesty, accountability and hard work,” Sestak said. “The people we sent to Washington to represent you, to look out for you, failed to do so and they must be held accountable.”

Sestak, 57, a former Navy admiral and second-term Congressman, has been campaigning against Specter, 79, for months, including taking a tour of the state’s 67 counties, so the announcement this morning comes as no surprise. He will be at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland at 1:30 p.m. to make the same announcement here.

He plans stops tonight in Johnstown, and tomorrow in Harrisburg and Scranton, in addition to an appearance on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central tomorrow night.

The Democratic Primary battle between Specter — a 29-year incumbent who was a Republican until three months ago — and Sestak already turned into a brawl. Sestak has accused Specter of not being a “real Democrat,” saying he switched parties based not on principles, but on polls showing he would lose a Republican primary to former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey.

Specter accuses Sestak of shirking his duties in the House to campaign against him.

“He hardly deserves a promotion since he has missed 105 House votes this year, which is the worst attendance record of any Pennsylvania Congressman,” Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas said today. “He should explain why, when Pennsylvanians are working harder, he can barely show up for work.”

Nicholas said Sestak’s decision to hold off on officially launching his candidacy until today raises questions about whether he can “handle the tough, rapid-fire decisions required of a Senator.”

Sestak, who spent much of his time before coming to Congress deployed overseas with an aircraft carrier battle group, has said he wanted to spend time with his 8-year-old daughter, and make sure she understood the campaign would take him away again for awhile.

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