Joe Sestak, the challenger in the Democratic Senate primary against Arlen Specter, alleges that he was offered a federal job if he stayed out of that race.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) said yesterday that the White House offered him a federal job in an effort to dissuade him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic primary.

The disclosure came during an afternoon taping of Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a Sunday news-analysis show on the Comcast Network. Sestak would not elaborate on the circumstances and seemed chagrined after blurting out “yes” to veteran news anchor Kane’s direct question.

“Was it secretary of the Navy?” Kane asked.

“No comment,” Sestak said.

“Was it [the job] high-ranking?” Kane asked. Sestak said yes, but added that he would “never leave” the Senate race for a deal.

It’s not possible that Sestak was offered Secretary of the Navy. Ray Mabus was nominated for that position by the White House in late March of 2009. Arlen Specter didn’t even switch parties until April 28 of that year. Sestak said that the offer came in July, after Mabus was confirmed for the post.

I don’t think anyone should be surprised that the White House has tried to manage the primary process to protect individual incumbents – we have that on the record multiple times. You’d think they’d have done a better job, with all the attention they paid to it, however. They selected cabinet members from New York and Colorado without knowing that the Governors in those states would pick subpar candidates. They could not entice the Vice President’s own son to run for a seat in Delaware. They plucked Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitano out of their respective Governor’s mansions when they could have been real contenders for seats in Kansas and Arizona. They had nobody ready for Evan Bayh’s retirement, although he claims to have let them know for months that he could leave. There’s the Martha Coakley nightmare. And obviously, Sestak didn’t give in to their demands, nor will Harold Ford (though the comedic value of having him run is high). For a White House presumably obsessed with meddling in Senate elections, the failures far outshine the successes.

Still, it’s startling for Sestak to say this out loud, even if it was assumed.