America

Primary Day In Pennsylvania

Rep. Joe Sestak i i

At 6:50 a.m. ET, Rep. Joe Sestak was ready to cast his vote in Gradyville, Penn. Don Gonyea/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Don Gonyea/NPR
Rep. Joe Sestak

At 6:50 a.m. ET, Rep. Joe Sestak was ready to cast his vote in Gradyville, Penn.

Don Gonyea/NPR

NPR's Don Gonyea, on assignment in Gradyville, Penn., was up early today, to catch Rep. Joe Sestak at his polling place in the Township of Edgmont. He sent us this dispatch:

It was raining, and [Sestak] wore a drab green waterproof Navy jacket — like a flight jacket, bearing the patch of the George Washington Battle Group on the left breast.

A scrum of a dozen reporters waited under the roof of the small porch at the front of the building. Sestak took questions, saying the race looks close, but that he feels confident. He said Senator Arlen Specter has done some good during his time in office, but that his votes in support of President Bush's agenda for eight years hurt the country and working people of Pennsylvania. Asked if he's surprised that the race suddenly became a toss-up, Sestak said he always knew he could win. It just took a while for his message to take hold.

Turnout was very light as the polling pace opened. No lines. Sestak voted around 7:20 a.m. ET.

Polls show Sestak is in a dead heat with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Some background from Gonyea:

Arlen Specter has represented Pennsylvania in the US Senate since 1981. He's running on his experience. But for the first time, he's running for the seat as a Democrat, having switched parties last year, saying the GOP has grown too rigidly conservative for him.

His opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak, says Specter is a political opportunist who switched parties only to better his chances for reelection.

A House race in Pennsylvania is drawing national attention, as well. Republicans hope to capture a seat that the late Democrat John Murtha held from 1975 until his death in February. Republican businessman Tim Burns is running against long-time Murtha aide Mark Critz.

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