Sestak then held a counter-event two blocks away.
The barbs started in the kitchen of Mary Ellen Jones, a small-business owner and tea-party activist who joined Toomey in criticizing Sestak for "bailout" votes to help automobile manufacturers, mortgage lenders and Wall Street firms.
"I want the bailouts to stop," said Jones, who has protested outside Sestak's office on issues like federal health-care reform.
"I feel like Congress is totally unfair and is treating the taxpayers like we're a bottomless money pit."
Toomey said it was "shocking" that Sestak is pushing new legislation on home mortgage relief. He warned that would lead to more irresponsible behavior by borrowers taking larger home loans than they can afford to pay back.
"It's a classic case of government picking winners and losers, which is something Joe Sestak is in favor of and I'm not," Toomey said of the legislation. "We need to end the bailouts, and we certainly need to end any new ones. Joe Sestak is very mistaken on this."
Sestak quickly responded with a backyard meeting at the home of a Democratic ward leader, saying that Toomey prospered during a career on Wall Street and then investing in the restaurant business, but turned his back on working families while in Congress and then as the leader of the conservative Club For Growth.
Sestak stood with the owner of a car-repair business, a man who nearly lost his home due to mortgage trouble during a medical crisis, and a nurse who said federal health-care legislation has helped save jobs at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Delaware County.
Sestak called Toomey an "ideologue" who sticks to conservative positions. Sestak called himself a "pragmatic person" who looked for chances to compromise on legislation to help taxpayers.
"What he believes is an ideology that wealth might trickle down," Sestak said of Toomey.
"I'm not for big government. I'm not for small government. I'm for effective government."