Upon announcing in August his bid to unseat Pennsylvania's senior senator, Sestak appeared to face an uphill battle: President Obama and Democratic leaders had already sided with Specter, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic party after it became clear he would not survive a Republican primary challenge.
Specter helped the Democrats secure their 60-seat majority in the Senate, and he has made clear efforts in recent months to prove his loyalty to the party. He declared his support for a pro-union bill he earlier opposed, and he continues to speak out in favor of the public option, or government-run health insurance plan, currently in the Senate health care bill.
Yet at a news conference at Philadelphia today, Frank suggested Specter's allegiance was disingenuous.
"Joe Sestak is a true Democrat who cares about the working families that have been hit hardest by the failed economic policies of the Bush Administration," Frank said. "He'll be a reliable vote for Pennsylvania's next generation instead of having the same loyal Bush Republican we've seen over the past generation. I have to say I don't think it did our profession any good for someone to announce that he switched parties purely so he could survive."
As chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank has played a prominent role in Congress over the past year as Washington grappled the recession and the turmoil in the financial sector. His endorsement could give more momentum to Sestak, who hopes to overtake Specter in the 2010 election.
An October poll (PDF) from Franklin & Marshall College shows Specter leading Sestak 30 percent to 18 percent, but it also shows Specter's approval rating declining.