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Tuesday’s Election Highlights: Rand Paul Wins, Specter Loses, and Lincoln pushes in AR

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.

Pennsylvania

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.

Kentucky

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.

Arkansas

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…

 

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Image via Flickr user:  Kristinausk - by way of CreativeCommons.org

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37 comments

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3:14AM PDT on Jun 1, 2010

I did not vote in the poll as I am completely clueless about these votes either way!
Besides, I have no idea what GOP stands for!
Forgive my ignorance.

5:49AM PDT on May 24, 2010

Many of you here that blogged are wrong in your conception of the Tea Party Movement ... I am not a member; but the members are better educated than most. Also, don't believe the main stream media LIES and half-truths about Rand Paul. They are afraid of him. They have sold us a false bill of goods with phoney Obama hope and change bs. He is a false demagogue who is purposelly trying to transform our country into something unrecognizable. Wake up America and save our future.

5:46AM PDT on May 24, 2010

Noted

5:45AM PDT on May 24, 2010

Rand Paul is getting bomblasted by the main stream media because they fear him. He is a libertarian and espouses ideals that many Americans believe in, like the US Consititution and what America really stands for. They are knit picking him on anything radical they can because they are afraid. Why don't they open up the Obama false pretenses to the public????

1:47AM PDT on May 24, 2010

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9:47PM PDT on May 23, 2010

Go Tea Party!!! Go Pat Toomey!!! Congratulations Rand Paul, stay true to the party, the tea party that is!!!

3:16PM PDT on May 22, 2010

Marilyn L.,
As Aaron stated in his article, the Tea Party is a diverse group and Rand Paul does not speak for the Tea Party, even though he seems to think he is one of them. There are Tea Party members of all ethnic backgrounds, all ages and from all political parties.

2:23PM PDT on May 22, 2010

How could anyone with a inch of common sense vote for Paul? What this man is proposing regarding civil rights constitutes racism in its worse form.

This racist paranoid knuckle dragger has already recanted what he stated on national tv. His views will not only bring back jim crow racism, but violate civil rights as far as employment and freedom of choice rolling back the clock 200 years.

A vote for this fool is a vote for racist ignorance to continue like the cancer it is in this nation.

6:43AM PDT on May 22, 2010

I don't know much about Rand Paul, but I did listen to his father when he ran for President. I didn't vote for Ron but I was amazed at how he caught on. People all over were all of a sudden active - some for probably the first time in their lives. This is not to say that they had never voted but they hadn't been this excited in a long time. Some of what Ron said made sense; I could have gotten behind some of the things. Some of the rest of it was not something I could have ever supported; but I didn't get that he was out there in never, never land.
I get that the Tea Partiers are mad. They are angry, unfortunately some of them are misinformed and not educated & some are just so angry that they don't stop and apply ANY critical thinking skills to a problem. Not thinking, just following talking points and allowing anger often has disastrous results. We will see.

10:07PM PDT on May 21, 2010

Term Limits!

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