The Joe Sestak-Pat Toomey Senate race has been defined, thus far, as each one accusing the other of being an extremist while claiming the mantle of the middle. Depending on whose ads and press releases you're viewing, Toomey is either an arch-conservative Wall Street schill or a modest fiscal conservative, while Sestak could be a latte-sipping Nancy Pelosi liberal or a pragmatist with a tinge of military hawkishness and middle class sympathies.
Today in Philadelphia, Sestak trotted out a group of Republicans for Sestak to push his alleged centrist credentials. It's a steering committee, spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said, of a larger group of about 40 to 50 people. They're led by four folks who spoke today in Philly: Scott Jenkins, a private investor and small business owner; Rob Sulek, former president of the board of directors at the Darlington Arts Center; Bertha Fachet, 94, a life-long Republican who switched to vote in the primary for Sestak; and Frank Gastner, an Army veteran and retired manufacturers representative.
The event was timed with a visit by moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to raise money for Toomey. Sestak put out a press release this morning showing votes on which Collins agreed with him and not Toomey -- including the stimulus package, when Collins joined Arlen Specter, thus causing the party switch that started us on the road to this moment. The Sestak people also helpfully point out that Toomey once led the Club for Growth, which dedicated itself to ridding Congress of moderate Republicans like Susan Collins.
Toomey -- who has been aggressively courting moderate Republicans who once supported Specter -- shot back with a list of 40 Democrats for Toomey. It's only a partial list, the campaign says, but is already 10 times larger than Republicans for Sestak (the Sestak camp insists that he has more GOP'ers on his side than those who spoke today, and a full list is forthcoming). And the Toomey folk provide a helpful list of votes and issues on which Sestak was to the left of many of his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats, including cap-and-trade and the never seriously discussed yet politically explosive notion of trying alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed in Pennsylvania.
These salvos, combined with the Chamber of Commerce's aforementioned television assault on Sestak this week, only confirm the Vanilla Ice levels of "extreme" going on in this race.