Sestak Beats Specter in Pennsylvania
It was a best case scenario for the netroots yesterday. In all four senate primaries that got what they wanted.
Again from north to south, in Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA)
former Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
54% to 46%. While President Obama and the rest of the Democratic establishment was officially working for Specter,
they surely were quietly hoping Sestak won because (1) he is the stronger candidate in the general election and
(2) Specter was a real pest to the Republicans during his years as a Republican senator and would probably be a real
pest to the Democrats had he won. In contrast, Sestak, a retired Rear Admiral in the Navy and the highest ranking
military officer ever to serve in Congress, is a loyal, moderate Democrat. Sestak was strongly backed by the left-wing
blogosphere so this is as big a victory for it as the ouster of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) at the state convention
was for the tea partiers. Current polls show Toomey leading Sestak, but those polls aren't worth the pixels they
are printed on. Now that Sestak is the actual nominee, it's a whole new ball game. He is likely to emphasize his
decades of military service and moderate votes in the House as well as accusing his Republican opponent, Pat Toomey,
of being far better suited to, say, Utah, than Pennsylvania.
As an inkling of what is to come, Sestak gave his victory speech at the Valley Forge Military Academy, a subtle
reminder of his long career as a naval officer. At this point, the race is a tossup, but it wouldn't
be surprising if Sestak gradually pulls ahead.
Paul Crushes Grayson in Kentucky
Political neophyte Rand Paul (R), son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX),
establishment favorite Trey Grayson (R) in
the Republican primary yesterday. The score was 59% to 35%.
This is a painful loss for minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is
the state's leading politician and who got Grayson to run in the first place.
It is also a big win for the tea partiers, who strongly supported the eccentric Paul. Since Kentucky is a highly
Republican state, he is a slight favorite in the general election, but Kentucky is a conservative state and Paul
is not a mainstream conservative. Throw in the fact that this is his first run for public office and there is a
chance he will say or do something strange that his opponent can exploit. Still, the race is his to lose.
Conway Edges Out Mongiardo for Democratic Nod in Kentucky
In a much closer race for the Democratic Senate nomination, state Attorney General Jack Conway (D)
nosed out Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D-KY)
44% to 43%. The Democratic establishment was neutral on this race but Conway was polling better than Mongiardo
against Paul, so they are probably happy that he won. Against a wild card like Paul this could be a wild and woolly
race where there might be a lot of surprises.
Lincoln and Halter Headed to a Runoff
The votes are still being counted in the Arkansas senatorial primary, but it looks like Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
will get around 45% to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's 42%. An Arkansas businessman, D.C. Morrison got most of the rest.'
Since Lincoln came in under 50%, there will be a runoff between her and Halter in June.
The runoff greatly complicates the banking bill now before the Senate. Lincoln is chair of the Senate Agriculture
committee and had the committee pass a bill banning banks from trading derivatives for their own account.
Some conservative Democrats don't want to ban this lucrative trading but also don't want to make Lincoln look
powerless so they were planning to wait until after the primary before gutting her proposal. The runoff throws a
monkey wrench in their plans.
Democrats Hold Murtha's Seat
In a special election to fill the seat of John Murtha, who passed away earlier this year, Democrat Tim
Critz, one of Murtha's staffers,
beat Republican Tim Burns
53% to 45% in this R+1 district, the only one in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004
and John McCain in 2008. Critz is fairly conservative and may vote with the Republicans from time to time, but in
a one-on-one race, the fact that he is nominally a Democrat means the Republicans can't brag about taking over a
long-time Democratic seat. But otherwise, it does not change the balance of power in Congress.
Blumenthal Falsely Claims to have Served in Vietnam
Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal was caught
claiming that he served
in Vietnam when he didn't. He was in the Marine Reserves at the time, but never was deployed outside the
United States. For an experienced politician to make such a mistake is incredible. He knew very well this
could be checked. The filing deadline for the Connecticut primary has not passed yet and some people in the
Democratic Party are no doubt going to urge Blumenthal to quit the race so an untainted candidate can run.
Blumenthal's first reaction was to apologize but say he is staying in the race. If the Republicans nominate
World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R), he might still be able to pull this one out of the fire.
Still, he remarks turned a certain Democratic victory into a potentially close race.
Mark Souder Will Resign from the House over Affair
Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) has
that he will resign from the House because he had an affair with a married staffer he hired to make a video
touting abstinence education. With such blatant hypocrisy he had little chance of being reelected so he decided
to give up. Dana Milbank has an interesting
about how the Republican revolution of 1994 seems to have been
merged with the sexual revolution. No fewer than 14 of the 73 freshmen Republicans have become embroiled in
sex scandals or messy divorces.
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