Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) loses in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, but that isn’t at all surprising. Democratic primary voters were used to voting against Specter so why would they vote for him? He would have likely lost in a Republican primary as well, his days in the Senate were numbered.
Republican Tim Burns lost to Democrat Mark Critz in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District to fill the late Representative John Murtha’s seat after he passed away in February. It was a close race considering there is a 2 to 1 registration advantage to the Democrats, but that is certainly a factor. The district despite being Democrat leans center-right, they voted for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008 though they went for Senator John Kerry (D-MA) in 2004… maybe they just like the name John, who knows? Well they were considered a bellwether district.
Though the Republican lost and it is disappointing, I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a sign of things to come a couple of factors to consider:
First the margin of victory – only eight points not so bad with again the 2-to-1 registration disadvantage and a hotly contested Democratic Senate Primary that brought Democratic voters out.
Critz ran as a conservative and reflected values in his district. He campaigned being pro-2nd Amendment, pro-life, against Obamacare (though he wouldn’t vote to repeal it), for spending cuts, etc. Not sure where he stood on the Stimulus. His victory could provide a model for Democrats, but I don’t necessarily thing so – this district had some very unique dynamics going.
One thing that can’t be duplicated by other Democrats is that he also had a connection to Murtha via being his aide. Also Mrs. Murtha endorsed him, and Murtha was beloved in the district. Who knows how much that of a factor that was?
The good news is he’s up for re-election this November so he’ll actually have to vote like he campaigned (unlike other “Blue Dog” Democrats) or else he could be in trouble.
Then Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is forced to a run-off in the Arkansas Democratic Primary. She didn’t have the 50% needed to avoid a run-off, and only beat her opponent Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter by 2 points. The third place vote getter, D.C. Morrison, had 13%. So she could very well lose in the run-off. If she does survive that the general election will be a tough battle as well.
The most interesting race to watch for me was the Kentucky Republican Senate Primary. Rand Paul not just beat, but spanked establishment favorite Trey Grayson. I didn’t have a favorite in this race, but was amazed at the reaction that some had toward former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Paul (read her reaction). This was a nasty race. I can’t say I agree with Paul on all of the issues (while I understand where he’s coming from on the Civil Rights Act and ADA, I wouldn’t go there, but he isn’t a closet Klansman), but I felt some of the criticism bordered on the conspiratorial. Other criticism, in particular, his position on life was blatantly false. An interesting turn in this race as well is when James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, switched his endorsement to Paul.
Not a good sign of things to come… Sarah Palin and Ron Paul who are Tea Party favorites endorse (of course his father would have to endorse him). His position on limited government resonates well in this current environment, and had a lot of grassroots support within the Tea Party movement. Then Dobson switches from Grayson to Paul, while Dobson’s influence has waned some in recently he’s still a voice people listen to. A stomping in the making. W. James Antle III over at The American Spectator notes that he also distanced himself from some of his father’s positions which also helped.
Overall, I’d say we see an anti-establishment, anti-incumbent mood brewing. Will we see this in Iowa? In particular in the Gubernatorial race? I certainly hope so.