Chuck Hagel has become the second prominent independent/Republican to endorse Joe Sestak in as many weeks.
Hagel told The Associated Press on Monday that Sestak has demonstrated during his two terms in Congress that he puts the interests of the nation and his constituents ahead of his party.
“I think he’s exactly what our country needs more of. I think he’s what the Senate needs more of — courageous, independent thinking,” Hagel said. “That’s what the job is about. You are supposed to use your judgment.”
Hagel, now the co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, is a veteran, much like Sestak. But he also served in Congress at the same time as Pat Toomey, and the snubbing of his fellow Republican is the kind of rebuke you don’t normally see. Hagel broke with his party while in office over the Iraq war, and didn’t seek re-election in 2008.
Sestak will formally announce the Hagel endorsement in stops in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Toomey is on a 4-day bus tour that purposefully avoids Philadelphia and its suburbs, home to a large contingent of Democratic voters. Polls have shown Sestak trailing in the race, even in his own internal surveys.