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Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter's Collision Course Took Two Completely Different Roads


water cooler         logoJoe Sestak, who defeated Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Primary Election last night effectively ended the career of one of the most recognizable faces in the United States Senate.

Specter, whose career spanned more than 40 years during six different decades, will ride off into the sunset as a celebrated politican who beat cancer not just once but twice. 

Specter and Sestak took far different roads to get to where they are today.  Sestak was a celebrated Navy Veteran and Specter made his bones as a young attorney serving on the Warren Commission in the 1960's.

Specter has a legal background, having served in private practice and as a D.A. in his distinguished career.  In 1965, early on in his political career he ran for District arlen specter campaign buttonsAttorney on the Republican ticket while registered as a Democrat.  And, ultimately things came full circle when he switched parties from the Republican to Democratic party in 2009.  Thus his career ends how it began-as a Democrat.  He served as a Senator for nearly 30 years.  His first term as PA Senator began in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was in office.  Specter has run for District Attorney, Mayor, Senator, and even President in his distinguished career. 

NPR has an interesting piece about Arlen Specter's career in buttons, where they show campaign buttons throughout his 45-year political career. 

Joe Sestak on the other hand, served in the United States Navy for over 30 years, up until 2005.  He is a retired three-star Vice Admiral and the highest-ranking former military official currently serving in Congress.  In 2006, his political career began when he challenged a ten-term incumbent in Curt Wheldon and won the 7th district Congressional seat-which serves primarily the Delaware County area outside Philadelphia.  This time around he defeated a five-term incumbent in Arlen Specter. 

Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter both came from humble roots.  Neither was born into wealth and worked damn hard for everything they earned.  They both earned "their due" in their own separate ways.  Both men come from military families.

Sestak was born in Secane, PA and went to Cardinal O'Hara in Springfield, PA.  Specter was born in Kansas and raised by working class parents.  Specter's father fought in World War I, while Sestak's father served in the Navy and fought in World War II. 

Now Sestak will go up against the man (Pat Toomey) who Arlen Specter didn't expect to defeat.  Sestak and Specter's collision course was decades in the making, with each taking a road that was anything but similar. 

Photo of Arlen Specter campaign buttons from NPR.com

Photo of Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter from politicsdaily.com