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Mini-Super Tuesday Wrap Up

May 18, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

It was a bad night to be an establishment politician and a good night to be a progressive Democrat. On Tuesday, four states — Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon and Arkansas — held congressional primaries, and in all the big races pitting D.C.-insider candidates against grassroots-supported “outsiders,” the insiders lost or did worse than anyone expected. Here’s a quick rundown of what went down.

  • Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA], the moderate Republican-turned-Democrat who has been in the Senate since 1981, was handily defeated by progressive Rep. Joe Sestak [D, PA-7]. Specter had the backing of President Obama and the Democratic party machine, but his defeat Tuesday night means that the more-liberal, grassroots-supported Sestak will be representing Democrats against Republican challenger Pat Toomey in the November general election. “A win for the people, over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington D.C.,” Sestak said in his victory speech.
  • Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR], a member of Congress since 1993 and one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, has been forced into a run-off against progressive challenger Lt. Governor Bill Halter. Lincoln appears to have have the won the most votes, but neither candidate has won 50% of the vote, which under Arkansas law means that the two will face a run-off election scheduled for June 8th. Lincoln has spent nearly three times as much money on her campaign as Halter, and the fact that she didn’t manage to defeat Halter outright is seen as a huge victory for the progressives who see Lincoln as being too close to corporate interests. “Today we put the special interests and political insiders on the ropes, and in three weeks we’re going to knock them out,” Halter told supporters at his election-night celebration.
  • Republican tea-party candidate and opthamologist Rand Paul defeated GOP establishment candidate Trey Grayson 59% to 41% to replace retiring BUNNIG on the November ballot for the Senate. Rand Paul, son of libertarian activist and former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul [R, TX-14], is a self-confessed political novice, while Grayson has been Secretary of State since 2003 and had the backing of Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY], the top Republican in Washington. “I have a message, a message from the Tea Party,” Paul said in a speech Tuesday night. “We’ve come to take our government back.” Paul will face Jack Conway, the more progressive of the two Democrats that were on on the ballot Tuesday, in November.
  • In Pennsylvania congressional District 12, voters were voting in a special election to replace deceased Democrats Jack Murtha. Murtha held PA-12 since 1974, despite the district having a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R+1. Democrats Mark Critz defeated Republican Tim Burns, 53% to 45%. It’s a huge victory from Democrats with a much wider margin of victory than most were expecting. Still, Critz is a moderate Democrat who has defended Murtha’s legendary earmarking prowess and has said that he would have voted against the health care bill.
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