“It is difficult to cast a negative vote on someone with the qualifications and background of Dean Kagan, but we have a major problem of institutional standing to find out from a nominee what the nominee thinks on important questions,” Specter said, referring to her title as dean of Harvard Law School.
“I have gone to some length to try to find out more about Dean Kagan. In the absence of being able to do so and to have a judgment on her qualifications, I am constrained to vote no,” he said.
Seven Republicans voted for Kagan, including Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (Okla.) and Orrin HatchOrrin HatchInternet companies dominate tech lobbying Senate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners Overnight Tech: GOP says internet fight isn't over | EU chief defends Apple tax ruling | Feds roll out self-driving car guidelines | Netflix's China worries MORE (Utah).
Specter was also a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which declined to take up Kagan's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the late nineties. Former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonTrump's new debate challenge: Silence Clinton aide defends inviting Mark Cuban to debate Clinton campaign: Trump shouldn't be graded on a 'curve' at first debate MORE nominated her to the bench in 1999.
Recent polls show Sestak has pulled ahead of Specter in the primary race.
A new Muhlenberg College poll gives Sestak a four-point lead, 46 percent to 42 percent. A new Rasmussen poll shows Sestak ahead of Specter, 47 percent to 42 percent.
Sestak has gained political traction by raising Specter’s ties to prominent Republicans such as former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Sestak launched an ad earlier this month with footage of Bush praising Specter as “a firm ally” he could “count on.”