WHAT BELLE AND TOOMEY HAVE IN COMMON…. It’s not uncommon to hear Democrats talk about the difficulties and inconveniences of having to clean up Republicans’ messes. But Senate hopeful Joe Sestak (D) is making that case to Pennsylvania voters in a more literal way.

In a clever new television ad, Sestak, a congressman and retired Navy Admiral, introduces voters to his family’s dog. “I’m Joe Sestak, and this is Belle,” Sestak says. “My family loves Belle, but she can make a mess — and we have to clean it up.

“I think about Belle when I see Congressman Toomey’s ads attacking me. It made me sick to bail out the banks. But I had clean up the mess left behind by these guys,” Sestak says, pointing to photos of Toomey, his right-wing opponent, and former President Bush. “They let Wall Street run wild. Now Pat Toomey is attacking me for cleaning up his mess.”

If you’re going to run an ad defending the financial industry rescue, this is the way to do it.

As for the race itself, is there much of a chance that Sestak can come from behind and eke out a win here, just as he did in the primary? Nate Silver doubts it, but it’s worth noting that some polls suggest the contest is tightening a bit in the Keystone State, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently redirected funds out of Florida and into Pennsylvania, suggesting the GOP isn’t as confident about the race as it once was.

Something to keep an eye on.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.