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Outsider candidates for Congress seek insider help in general election

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This could mean a slightly reduced role for Sestak's siblings, who have helped to run all of his previous campaigns.

Siblings for support

In 2006, Sestak approached Rahm Emanuel, then the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who told him that he wasn't ready to run for the suburban Philadelphia district where the retired admiral had grown up. So Sestak turned to brother Richard, a Los Angeles attorney, and sisters Elizabeth and Margaret to serve as his campaign manager, top fundraiser and treasurer. He won.

"The only ones who were supporting me were my family," Sestak said in an interview last week. In both the 2006 House race and the 2010 primary, he said, his team made some mistakes, "because we weren't politically aware." But he expects to continue to rely on his family for advice. "The results speak for themselves," he said.

Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said having help from Washington won't necessarily damage candidates' efforts to promote themselves as outsiders. "Joe Sestak is still going to be an outsider no matter what we do in helping him with his campaign," he said. "There's a difference between structure and independence and your approach to the campaign."

That might come as a relief to Labrador, who is losing two of his most valued aides. Mansfield, a state political veteran, is returning to his consulting business. Mansfield's son, Colin, a volunteer who developed Labrador's elaborate social-networking operation, will report to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in two weeks.

Labrador said he's not worried that bringing in a team of pros will undermine his appeal as a regular guy.

"I think what people are looking for is authenticity. And someone they can really feel in their heart believes the statements they're making," Labrador said. "The only concern that I have, and I'm working on that right now, is raising enough money to get my message out."


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