Tuesday’s Election Highlights: Rand Paul Wins, Specter Loses, and Lincoln pushes in AR
Four states held their primary elections Tuesday night, and with the exception of Arkansas, the names which will appear on the November mid-term ballots are now set. The anti-incumbent media meme held up with Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-PN) loss and Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AR) failure to avoid a run-off in Arkansas.
Indeed, together with Rand Paul’s trouncing of his GOP opponent in Kentucky it appears that both Party establishments got their hands slapped. Appearances, however, aren’t everything. Read on for some of Tuesday’s primary election highlights.
Senator Arlen Specter’s party jump gambit came to a close Tuesday evening, making his fifth term in the Senate his last. Specter had the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Obama administration, and a large segment of Philadelphia’s Democratic electorate. It wasn’t enough. (More below the clip)
A larger proportion of the commonwealth’s Democrats were sufficient for retired admiral, Rep. Joe Sestak to win the nomination.
Sestak effectively capitalized on Specter’s 2009 departure from the GOP, portraying the incumbent as an “opportunist.” Sestak’s campaign drove its point home, running ads featuring George W. Bush offering glowing praise for Specter.
The result was, perhaps, predictable, as Obama appeared to distance his administration from Specter in the days leading up to the election. The DSCC released a memo shortly after Specter conceded the race declaring its support for Sestak, who’ll face Republican Pat Toomey in November.
Another noteworthy Pennsylvania election Tuesday decided whom will fill the Congressional seat left empty following the death of Rep. Jack Murtha (D). Polls had indicated that the race for PN’s 12th district as a toss-up. It was a surprise, then, that Democratic candidate Mark Critz defeated Republican Tim Burns by eight percentage points.
The contest to replace Sen. Jim Bunning (R), retiring at the end of his present term, promises to be among the most entertaining campaigns leading up to the November elections.
The Republican primary commanded the majority of the national media coverage, election day and before. As was predicted, Dr. Rand Paul — son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) — soundly defeated Secretary of State Trey Grayson (59 – 35 per-cent).
Grayson lost despite support from the GOP establishment, most notably from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (KY’s other Senator).
Talking Points Memo assessed, “Paul faces a general election campaign that will put the purest form of the tea party message on the Senate ballot so far this year.”
That may be true, but not all ‘tea partiers’ are created equal. As Brad Friedman noted in his Election Integrity Backgrounder (well worth reading, BTW), Rand Paul is a Libertarian “like his father…”
…calls for removing government entirely from all but those functions called for directly in the Constitution. For example, he supports an immediate pull out of U.S. troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan, an idea that, in truth, is largely anathema to the bulk of the grossly disinformed “Tea Baggers”/GOP base (versus the true “Tea Partiers” who first emerged in 2006 in support of Ron Paul, against George W. Bush, and who were consequently marginalized as wackos back then by the bulk of the GOP and its Bush-lovin’ base.)
Regardless, Paul addressed tea partiers as a homogenous group in his victory speech. “I have a message from the tea party…this tea party movement is a message to Washington that we are unhappy and we want things done differently,” Paul told the cheering crowd. (More below the clip)
The race for the Kentucky’s Democratic nomination between Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway was hard fought and very tight. Less than 6,000 votes made the difference as Conway edged out Mongiardo by 1 percentage point.
No doubt, Conway will be considered an underdog versus Paul in November. However, Paul and the GOP should be careful not to get too confident, and be mindful that Kentucky Democrats turned out in force on Tuesday. Though Paul soundly defeated his GOP opponent, by the number of votes cast for all KY Senate hopefuls (closed primary voting, not withstanding), Paul finished third.
While the GOP nominated Rep. John Boozman as its Party’s Senate candidate as expected, the Democrats are “going to overtime…”
(via Talking Points Memo) National progressives failed to topple Sen. Blanche Lincoln [Tuesday], sending the hard-fought Arkansas Democratic Senate primary into a three-week sprint to a June 8 run-off election between Lincoln and the choice of left-wing Democrats, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
Lincoln ran afoul of liberal voters as she drifted to the right of the Democratic caucus over the last 18 months. The incumbent’s opposition to the public option during the health care debate and her anti labor stance led labor activists and progressives, nationwide, to lend money and support to Halter’s insurgent campaign.
Just as the Democratic nominees in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, whether Lincoln or Halter prevails in the run-off election, she or he can expect to be trailing their respective Republican opponent in the polls.
Despite the Democrats’ apparent polling disadvantage in advance of the November general elections, many commentators have noted that Tuesday’s primary results indicate that their prospects come November aren’t as dire as has been reported.
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com commented via Twitter:
When you cut through the clutter, the bottom line is that tonight should make Dems more optimistic about November.
Similarly, Greg Sargent noted on his blog:
All in all, a big night for Dems. The Sestak victory, too, is big for them, even if some of them don’t know it yet.
Perhaps, Salon.com editor Joan Walsh put it best late Tuesday night:
… [I]t’s clear that the [Mainstream Media] storyline – that Dems are doomed by voter discontent – is more simplistic. What Tuesday shows is Democrats with a strong message and a willingness to buck the status quo will get a hearing from voters and won’t be treated as part of the tired, sold-out establishment. And despite all predictions of Democratic torpor after the excitement of 2008, the party base turned out tonight…