“Today I declare my candidacy for the US seat in the Senate from Pennsylvania.”
Representative Joe Sestak ended months of speculation Tuesday morning by announcing he will challenge 5-term Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in 2010.
Sestak, 57, spoke with more than 100 cheering supporters at a rally at VFW Post in Folsom, Delaware County. Already sounding like candidate, Sestak promised change.
"These problems, when I am your senator, are not going to just disappear overnight," he said. "I can't promise you that. But I can promise you that you will have working for you the hardest working senator, that you will have the most honest of senators, the most accountable of senators."
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But Sestak -- who said he will focus on healthcare, the middle class and veterans -- may face an uphill battle against incumbent Arlen Specter.
The 28-year Republican senator, who cut ties with his party in April, has the backing of President Obama, Governor Ed Rendell and over 7 million dollars in cash according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Sestak said he welcomed the obstacles.
"When I went around those 67 counties, not one person said to me ‘Joe, who do you know?” Sestak said. "Everyone said to me, 'Joe what are you going to do for me and will you be here tomorrow.' This is the ideal situation. I love being the underdog."
Specter’s campaign manager wasted no time responding to Sestak’s announcement.
“Sestak’s month of indecisiveness on his candidacy raises a real question as to his competency to handle the tough, rapid-fire decisions required of a United States senator,” Specter Campaign Manager Christopher Nicholas said in a statement.
Former Rep. Pat Toomey, heavily favored to win the Republican primary and who promised fiscal restraint, chimed in on both candidates.
"Pennsylvania Democrats will make an important choice between Joe Sestak, a consistent liberal who really believes in his values, and Arlen Specter, a career political opportunist who believes in nothing but his own reelection," the campaign of Pat Toomey said in a statement.