Update 3 – 10:17 PM: Say bye bye, Arlen. The AP just called the race for Sestak. We now know the players in the fall Senate race in PA: Toomey vs. Sestak. Bring it!
10:28 PM: And Tim Burns concedes in PA-12. So it stays in Dem hands. No surprise, as that is an overwhelmingly Dem district. Would have really been a shocker for Burns to pull out a win. He’ll get a chance to try again in Nov.
Update 1 – 7:49 PM: Not even an hour after all polls had closed in KY, the AP is calling the GOP Senate primary for Rand Paul. The Tea Party claims a victory tonight, but will he be able to beat his Democrat opponent in the fall election? I know lots of you are excited about Paul’s victory but I’m not. In fact, I’m not overly impressed by Grayson, either.
While North Carolina is a little over a month away from a couple of key runoff primaries to determine who is going to be the Democrat nominee to take on incumbent US Senator Richard Burr in the fall elections, and who will be the GOP challenger to incumbent US House Rep. Larry Kissell (NC-8), three states are holding key primaries today that will once again test the power of incumbency in a year where incumbents – especially Democrats – are growing more and more out of favor with their respective constituencies. There are also two special House elections going on in both PA and HI. Hawaii’s will be decided on Saturday. Here is a quick rundown:
Arkansas Primary, Democrat side: Incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln is facing two primary challengers, which will make it diffiicult for her to hit the 50% she will need to avoid a runoff. The Fix reports:
The Arkansas Democratic primary has widely been cast as a race between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But, it may be Morrison who is the most important Democrat on the ballot [today].
Morrison has run to the right of both Lincoln and Halter — speaking out against the health care bill and the cap and trade legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress — but it’s not his policy positions that have helped him gain support in polls on the race.
Rather, it’s that he has benefited from being outside of the nasty back and forth between Lincoln and Halter. Can Morrison keep the six percent (or so) at which recent polls peg him?
Watch northwest Arkansas to see how Morrison is doing. It is one of the most conservative areas of the state but in the 2008 Arkansas Democratic primarily roughly 25 percent of the Democratic vote came from that region. Presumably, those are Morrison Democrats — if such a thing exists.
The better Morrison does, the worse for Lincoln as it makes it less likely that she can get to the 50 percent mark she needs to avoid a June 8 runoff — a second race widely seen as unfavorable to the incumbent.
Lincoln’s poll numbers have sank over the last several months, and Halter has been gaining ground, so tonight may be a long night for Senator Lincoln. Polls close in Arkansas at 8:30 PM ET. Results can be viewed here.
PA Primary – Both D & R, and the special election to replace John Murtha in the US House: Will Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat turncoat Senator Arlen Specter go down to US House Rep. Joe Sestak? Will the seat (PA-12) fomerly held by the late John Murtha finally go red to Tim Burns? Those are the questions we all want the answers to, but we won’t find out until after 8 PM ET when polls close. Via WDUQ:
Despite a couple of high profile races, voter turnout is expected to be light on this primary election day in Pennsylvania.
There are two nationally-watched races including the Senate Democratic Primary where voter surveys show 5-term incumbent Arlen Specter, Republican turned Democrat, is in a dead heat with Congressman Joe Sestak.
On the Republican side, former Congressman Pat Toomey is expected to be an easy winner over Peg Luksik of Johnstown.
The other contest that’s getting national attention is a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional district. The seat that was held by John Murtha for 34 years until, his death in February. Democrat Mark Critz, Murtha’s former aide, is running against Republican businessman Tim Burns and Libertarian Demo Agoris to serve out Murtha’s term. The district includes all of Greene county, and parts of six other counties. Polls show a tight race between Critz and Burns.
I know everyone’s hoping Specter – who got no help from BarryO in the final days of his campaign – goes down in flames tonight, but a little part of me wants to see Specter squeak by so Toomey can have a go at him in the fall elections. Specter is entirely beatable this year, and after the way the GOP dissed the more conservative Toomey for the more liberal Specter in the 2004 Senate primary (a primary Specter only won by 2%), a win by Toomey over his former “colleague” for his seat would be sweet vindication for him against both the GOP and Specter.
As far as PA-12, Jim Geraghty predicts a “nailbiter” and says Republicans are cautiously optimistic about that seat. Republicans will be over the moon if Burns can snag that seat.
When the polls close, you can view the results as they come in here.
Kentucky Primary – Republican side: This race has an interesting dynamic in that you’ve got two candidates endorsed by high profile Republicans. On the more conservative side, you have Rand Paul, son of US House Rep. Ron Paul . He was endorsed by Senator Jim DeMint, retiring KY Senator Jim Bunning, and (someone correct me if I’m wrong) local Tea Parties in KY. Secretary of State Trey Grayson, OTOH, was endorsed by Senate Minority Leader and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell, VP Dick Cheney, and former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The media is having a field day painting this race as one of “the establishment” versus “the Tea Party”, as the WaPo’s 44 blog demonstrates:
BOWLING GREEN, Ky — Will Rand Paul make an easier opponent for Democrats in the fall?
If Republicans in Kentucky tonight choose Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Paul’s opponent in the GOP Senate primary, Grayson is expected to be a heavy favorite in the general election. He would be a traditional Republican running in a conservative state where President Obama is unpopular.
Paul, officials in both parties say, introduces a wild card. The state’s Republican politicians, such as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, espouse traditional conservative views on social issues, such as opposing abortion rights, while also calling for limiting government and lowering taxes.
But they do not promote the aggressively anti-government vision of Paul, who has called for eliminating federal agencies such as the Department of Education and banning all earmarks. Paul would turn this race from a traditional Republican versus Democratic contest into a kind of referendum on the “tea party’s” agenda, observers say.
“Campaigning against Rand Paul would be something I would relish,” said Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general and one of the two leading candidates for the Senate seat on the Democratic side. “There would be a lot of Republicans who can’t go along with Rand Paul. He wants to do away with the Department of Agriculture. He wants to do away with the Department of Education. There are a lot of fair-minded people who won’t go along with that.”
Conway said he expected Grayson would move to the center if he won the GOP primary, but thought Paul would not.
Hmm. I think there are some appealing aspects to Paul but I worry that he may share some of his dad’s isolationist foreign policy beliefs. You have to read between the lines, but I believe it is there:
Dr. Paul, like President Bush when he was running for office, will oppose reckless “nation building” or burdening our troops by making them the world’s police force.
I heard this from a few conservatives as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq progressed under Bush’s 2 terms in office, as if to suggest he really had a choice. The complaint went along the lines of “well, he promised as a candidate not to get our nation involved in nation building, but that’s exactly what he’s doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.” My response always was that if we’re going to wage war in a country to fight violent extremists we can’t just leave a mess for the country to clean up once major combat operations are over. Going into Iraq and Afghanistan and Iraq wasn’t purely a military strategy, either. The goal also was to guide both countries towards some type of more pro-western democratic-style government.
Also, via The Washington Examiner:
Paul says invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do, and while he supported the attack on Afghanistan, he expresses reservations about President Obama’s mission for U.S. forces there and speaks about the need to scale back overseas commitments.
Grayson, meanwhile, defends the Iraq invasion and argues for a long-term commitment to Afghanistan as part of “keeping America on the offensive” in the war on terrorism.
Grayson hammered Paul on the difference with some nasty ads, suggesting that Paul had blamed America for the Sept. 11 attacks because he had argued that previous American policies had helped galvanize Islamists.
The Grayson strategy was to tie Paul to the “truther” movement that holds that Sept. 11 was an act of mass murder perpetrated by the Bush administration.
That’s how Grayson won the backing of former Vice President Cheney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who bashed Paul just as he had derided Paul’s father in the 2008 Republican primaries.
Pundits expected Paul’s insurgent candidacy to fizzle.
Kentucky is a state of 4.3 million people that boasts more than 400,000 veterans and 36,000 active-duty military members on two big bases: the elite 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell and the army’s tank training center at Fort Knox.
But Paul hit back hard. His response ad used images from the Sept. 11 attacks and said “fighting back was the right thing to do.” He then spoke directly to Grayson, saying “your shameful TV ad is a lie, and it dishonors you.”
His message on the stump was that he wanted America have the most powerful military in the world as a deterrent to our enemies, not to be a policeman or a community organizer to failed nations.
It’s the same message that worked for candidate George W. Bush in 2000 and a common thread of conservative foreign policy until Bush embraced an interventionist approach after 9/11.
Sigh. Even if you opposed going into Iraq, there was near universal support in this country for going into Afghanistan after 9-11, and my points made prior to quoting the WE still applies. I get so tired of the (false) accussation/implication that Bush was eager to “nation build” after he was sworn in. We helped rebuild two nations, Afghanistan and Iraq. Where we have also fought two wars. We couldn’t just leave either country as a war-torn mess ripe for genocide. This ain’t rocket science.
Polls in most parts of KY, BTW, are now closed (as of 6 PM). You can watch the results as they come in here.
Special House race – Hawaii: The seat in HI-1 is one that could very well be a GOP pick-up after this weekend, thanks in part to infighting w/ more than just a hint of racial overtones amongst Democrats:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced this morning that it will cease spending money in the Hawaii special election race set for later this month, a decision that almost certainly will hand Republicans a victory.
“The DCCC will not be investing additional resources in the [Hawaii’s 1st district] special election,” said DCCC communications director Jen Crider. “Local Democrats were unable to work out their differences. The DCCC will save the resources we would have invested in the Hawaii special election this month for the general election in November.”
To date, the DCCC has spent $313,000 on ads seeking to weaken Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou (R) but has been unable to do so in a meaningful way as an internal party division has made the race close to unwinnable.
National Democrats have spent the last several weeks trying to force state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa out of the race, believing that she and former Rep. Ed Case (D) would split the party vote enough to allow Djou to shoot the gap.
Hanabusa refused to heed calls from national Democrats and held a press conference last week asserting her commitment to the race. She has the backing of Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka as well as much of the Hawaii political establishment; Case is persona non grata among that crowd after his 2006 Senate challenge to Akaka.
All three candidates will appear of the May 22 special election ballot. National Democratic strategists have insisted that the district, which gave President Obama 70 percent of the vote in 2008, will return to their side in November when they will have a more traditional one-on-one vote.
Help me out here. Isn’t Hawaii’s District 1 the district President Obama lived in when he was in Hawaii? If so, wouldn’t it be awesome for us to pick up that seat, his former Senate seat, and Biden’s old Senate seat? *Mouth waters*