Challenger Accuses Specter of Blocking OLC Nominee
By Andrew Ramonas | November 2, 2021 5:54 pm

Sen. Arlen Specter’s challenger in the 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic primary is bringing the stalled Dawn Johnsen nomination to the fore of the election battle.

Joe Sestak (Gov)

Joe Sestak (Gov)

Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter’s Democratic primary opponent, accused the Pennsylvania senator of “joining the GOP stonewalling” of the Office of Legal Counsel nominee, who has languished without a Senate vote for seven months. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Johnsen’s nomination in March, but Specter hasn’t committed to support her.

“Opposition to Professor Johnsen does not have to do with her qualifications to head of the Office of Legal Counsel,” Sestak said in a statement. “Rather, it has to do with her pro-choice views and her vocal, but justified, opposition to extra-legal practices of the Bush administration. I call on my colleague, Arlen Specter, to state unequivocally that he will stop supporting Republican obstructionist tactics and stop depriving the President of his most important legal advisor in this difficult and dangerous time.”

Specter changed parties in April after it became clear he would face a tough Republican primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). At a news conference announcing his dramatic party switch, Specter said he opposed Johnsen. But he has never clarified whether he would vote for a procedural motion to advance her nomination. Democrats need 60 votes to end debate and move to a full Senate vote on Johnsen.

“Senator Specter has several concerns about Ms. Johnsen’s nomination,” Specter’s office said in a statement to Main Justice today. “Senator Specter had a second meeting with her to get clarification on her positions and he is still considering her nomination.” The first meeting was April 2, and the second occurred May 12, according to Specter’s office.

Sestak is trailing Specter by 19 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll released last month.

We reported last week that several liberal groups are putting more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week to move on Johnsen.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and many Republicans have criticized the Indiana University law professor because of her vocal opposition to the Bush administration’s national security policies and her past work for abortion rights.A

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