In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Asked for comment about the news that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) intends to run for Senate in 2010, AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale says that influential labor organization is biding its time. "When it is time to make an endorsement decision it will be made by Pennsylvania's workers based on the issues that are important to them including the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform," Vale told me.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) recently said that he thinks an EFCA compromise is highly likely, though it's unclear what level of support they expect from him if he's to clear the bar for an endorsement.

The Service Employees International Union had no comment at this time.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) might be set on getting into the Senate race in 2010--but he'll first have to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Democratic primary and the state party won't be on his side.

"Our position is that Arlen Specter is the incumbent and Pennsylvania has a history of supporting incumbents in races," said Abe Amoros, Acting Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Democratic party.

Amoros said it's no surprise that Sestak is telling his supporters he intends to get into the race. "We've always thought he would be a contender," Amoros noted, when I asked him for comment on the news. But, he added, "Governor [Ed] Rendell said he will support Specter and [Sen.] Bob Casey said the same."

"Congressman Sestak is one of the hardest working Democratic congressmen we have in Pennsylvania," Amoros said. He expects "a very spirited race next year."

I just got off the phone with Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) campaign manager Chris Nicholas, and he didn't have much to say regarding Rep. Joe Sestak's plans to run for the Senate.

Nicholas pointed out to me that Sestak's sister, who is also a campaign staffer, appeared to indicate that Sestak has yet to sit down with his family to make a final decision.

"There's nothing to react to," said Nicholas. "There's no announcement here. So we have no comment."

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate, TPMDC has confirmed.

"He intends to get in the race," says Meg Infantino, the Congressman's sister, who works at Sestak for Congress. "In the not too distant future, he will sit down with his wife and daughter to make the final decision."

The move would constitute a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who intends to run for re-election in 2010, after having switched parties earlier this year.

Earlier today, a Sestak volunteer and contributor received a handwritten note from Sestak himself, announcing his intent to run and asking for a contribution. The source provided TPMDC a scan of the letter:

The note says, "I am writing you as especially dear supporters to let you know I intend to run for the U.S. candidacy's credibility will have much to do with my fundraising success by the 30 June FEC filing deadline at the end of this quarter. Would you help me bring the change for the future we Pennsylvanians need[?]"

Infantino confirms that the note is genuine and that "Joe Sestak has written a number of similar notes."

We'll provide you with more details as we receive them.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is now mobilizing supporters around the Sotomayor nomination, with a new e-mail to supporters warning of Republican obstruction and the "reverse-racist" attack from Rush Limbaugh:

With statements like that from Limbaugh, we can expect to have a fight on our hands. You can be assured, however, that the DSCC, the branch of the Democratic Party solely dedicated to electing more Democrats to the Senate, is working hard every day to elect senators who will give President Obama's nominees a fair hearing. It's what America expects of us.

This is technically not a fundraising effort, as there is no appeal for money. But obviously, the Dems are working hard to rally support wherever they can.

Full e-mail after the jump.

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Our good friends at the Dump Bachmann blog are now getting their message out about our favorite House Republican backbencher in a new way: A comic book, entitled False Witness!

Dump Bachmann contributor Bill Prendergast teamed up with local cartoonists in Minnesota to write an illustrated history of Bachmann's career -- with her dialogue all culled from actual media appearances, such as her call for revolution against President Obama, or her request for the media to investigate Congress for anti-American views. Check out this cover:

(Click image to enlarge.)

A sneak preview is available here. Here's the comic's official Web site. The first full-sized issue should be published in the next few weeks.

Former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), a right-winger who lost re-election against conservative Democrat Mark Pryor in 2002, gave a remarkably candid and dispassionate analysis of the Sotomayor nomination on MSNBC today -- laying out just how bad he thinks it is for the Republicans:

"Oh I think it's a brilliant nomination, and I think it creates a great political dilemma for Republicans," said Hutchinson. "You've got a Republican base that is -- they're ready for a fight, they want to take the measure of how much fight there is in Senate Republicans. And there is the great risk that you alienate women and you alienate Latinos, both constituencies that the Republicans struggle with and need to expand to. So I think it's a big political problem for Republicans."

The day after Souter announced his retirement, conservative fundraiser Dan Morgan laid out the game to Jonathan Allen of Congressional Quarterly, "This is a nuclear weapon for the conservatives out there. When you do fundraising, there is an emotional component in this. And boy, the emotion is there magnified times 100. The Supreme Court is great. That`s going to be mail. That`s going to phone calls. The clients I work with are in meetings already. There are letters being written already."

That explains quite a bit. Because if you take a step back from all the angry noise on cable news about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, you realize that all of the conservatives directing outrage her way don't really seem to have tons of representation in Congress. Aside from the occasional backdoor insult from conservative senators like James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the response from the GOP has ranged from modest skepticism to modest congratulations.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but, breaking it down to its simplest components, Sotomayor is a qualified and politically sympathetic figure; there's no clear precedent for killing her nomination, and there's just about nothing to gain--and much to lose--by attacking her.

But the calculus is different if you work in the conservative movement. By ginning up controversy where none exists, these activists get free press and free money and a micro-movement with which to corral fellow travelers into common cause. But who are they? Below, a rundown of some of the key players.

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At the White House press briefing just now, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by Chip Reid of CBS News about Newt Gingrich's Twitter comments that a "Latina woman racist" should have to withdraw from a judicial nomination, comparing Sonia Sotomayor to a hypothetical white man saying his background made him a better pick than a Latina.

"I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending nomination," said Gibbs. "I think we're satisfied that when the people of America and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker, that they'll come to the same conclusion that the President did."

At his big fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee tonight in Angeles, President Obama will be joined by a prominent Dem Senator in a sign of party solidarity, The Hill reports: Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who was of course a Republican until about a month ago.

Specter has been raising money on the West Coast, and will be swinging by the Beverly Hills Hilton for the Obama event. "He will be with President Obama tonight, and we're glad to report that many of the president's West Coast fundraisers have agreed to help us," Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas told the paper.