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Rep. Joe Sestak trying to outrun Sen. Arlen Specter

The Democrat has arguably the hardest-working staff on Capitol Hill scrambling to meet requests from constituents, lobbyists and the media. Now he wants to beat Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator.

November 21, 2009|By Joshua Drobnyk

Those who stick around Sestak's congressional and district offices quickly learn that he likes employees who embrace his work ethic, immersing themselves completely in their jobs, mastering the details of legislation and following up with everyone who writes or calls the office or meets with the lawmaker. The reward is a quicker-than-usual path up the organizational ladder.

"He wanted us to dig deep in the substance of the issues," recalled Clarence Tong, 27, who spent 19 months in Sestak's office before leaving to get his master's degree in public policy. "While he expects a lot, he gave me every opportunity to learn."

The workaholic image is one Sestak is eager to portray, particularly in a contest against Specter, whose reputation as a tireless lawmaker is legendary on Capitol Hill.

"He is trying to make that point that he won't be out-hustled, he won't be outworked," said Franklin & Marshall College political science professor G. Terry Madonna. "He is going at Specter's historic strength by making it an endurance test."

jdrobnyk@mcall.com

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