Toomey, Sestak Disagree On Ground Zero Mosque

Surprise surprise, the idea of building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York is yet another issue that separates Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidates.Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak, who have agreed on next-to-nothing in their politically polarized contest, voiced different views this week about the controversial plan, which is supported by President Obama but opposed by a wide swath of Republicans. Comments from aides to the two candidates came on the eve of Sestak’s endorsement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the project’s most fervent political supporter.

Toomey’s campaign, in a statement first reported by The Morning Call, said the former congressman opposes the project.

“It is provocative in the extreme to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero,” spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said. “Islamic leaders should be encouraged to move the mosque elsewhere.”

And Sestak’s campaign, while emphasizing that its position concerns religious freedom in general and not New York’s circumstances in particular, was far more supportive.

“Joe believes there is a Constitutional right to religious freedom and separation of church and state that applies equally to all Americans,” Sestak spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said. “But he is not looking to say what is best for New York–as long as that right is respected–he is focused on Pennsylvania.”

The original version of the story appears here. is a non-partisan, political news Web site, providing insider reporting and commentary on Pennsylvania’s big 2010 elections.