David Harsanyi

Political payoffs are so commonplace in Washington that I was initially unable to muster an appropriate level of outrage at hearing that Rep. Joe Sestak had accused the Obama administration of offering him a job in exchange for his withdrawal from the Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial primary.

Until, that is, I heard President Barack Obama's senior advisor David Axelrod explain to CNN's John King that though there was "no evidence" (hey, if the administration's senior advisor claims there is no evidence we should move along) if such an offer were made, it would constitute "a serious breach of the law."

If the Democratic Party's choice for the Senate in Pennsylvania is a fabulist -- as Axelrod is effectively saying -- why does Sestak's story sound so familiar to one in the Democratic Senate primary in Colorado?

In a September 2009 article headlined "D.C. job alleged as attempt to deter Romanoff," the Denver Post's Michael Riley reported that Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House, then still contemplating a run again against the governor-installed administration-sanctioned foot solider Michael Bennet, received an "unexpected communication" from a renowned kingmaker in Washington.

"Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop," wrote Riley at the time, "suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post."

Apparently, if you're running against the establishment's preference, a communication from Messina should not be entirely unexpected.

Shortly before Riley's thoroughly sourced piece ran, my colleague, Denver Post editorial board member Chuck Plunkett, asked Romanoff if he had been offered a position within the administration. The answer was "no." But did the White House ever "chat" or "suggest" that a job might perhaps open up if, for whatever reason, Romanoff decided not to run? (Romanoff's campaign did not return my call.)

It should be noted there are differences between the Romanoff and Sestak cases. One: Romanoff, it seems, was not directly offered a position. Two: Romanoff was not yet officially a candidate when the administration was not offering him a position.


David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.