Democrat Announces Senate Bid in Pennsylvania

Toomey is a top Democratic target in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced a bid for Senate in Pennsylvania on Friday, setting up a Democratic primary in a must-win Senate contest for a party looking to win back the majority in 2016.  

Pawlowski faces former Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democrat who lost to GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey in 2010.  

Democrats in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have been looking for an alternative to Sestak, who ruffled feathers in his last bid when he defeated the late Sen. Arlen Specter in the primary. Sestak went on to lose to Toomey by a 2-point margin that year and has been gearing up for a rematch with Toomey ever since.  

The primary field could continue to grow. Democrats say Pawlowski was not one of the candidates national operatives had their eye on as a Sestak alternative.  

Pawlowski ended his 2014 gubernatorial bid before the primary because he lacked the funds to compete. Operatives said if Pawlowski was unable to raise campaign cash for a state race, which do not have contribution limits, raising money for a federal contest with a $2,700 maximum donation will be an even bigger lift.  

The mayor has fundraising work to do to catch up to Sestak, who started the year with $1.6 million in cash on hand. Sestak has yet to announce his first-quarter haul, and his campaign did not immediately respond to request from CQ Roll Call. Reports were due to the Federal Election Commission by Wednesday.  

But Pawlowski sought to dispel the notion that his fundraising ability would be a problem, saying in a statement Friday that he is going to focus on raising cash in the coming weeks.  

“I intend to spend the majority of my time calling donors and doing the work required to assemble the resources necessary to compete and win," Pawlowski said in a news release. Toomey reported $7.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, according to The Morning Cal l from Allentown, Pa.  

The Pennsylvania Senate race is rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.  

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