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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IT’S PRIMARY SEASON


Today, voters in four states participated in primary elections: Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Oregon. Most of the attention will be paid to first three states due to highly contested races that could potentially give an idea what the November mid terms will look like. Primaries have already been held in states such as Texas, West Virginia, and Utah.



To follow the results, go to fivethirtyeight.com.

Basis of this blog is from the political blog led by NBC's Chuck Todd.


 

PENNSYLVANIA

The Keystone State features two enticing races. In the Democratic primary, you have Senator Arlen Specter (R D-PA) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D- PA 7) facing each other to represent the Democrats in the US Senate race this coming November. Arlen Specter, who was a Republican, switched parties around this time last year due to Republicans going farther and farther to the right (and off the cliff of reality…..) and discovering that his positions were closer in line with the Democratic Party. That set the stage for the Dems to have a 6 month 60-seat Senate majority (Minnesota Senator Al Franken was the 60th seat due to the long recount process by Norm Coleman. The 60 seats fell in their lap. It was going to be 59-41 once Franken got in. I could see someone argue that PA and MA Senator's seats traded parties, one went to the Dems; the other went to the GOP).

Now this is not the first time Specter has done this. He was a Democrat back in the 1960s, but ran as a Republican to unseat the Philadelphia District Attorney in 1965. After winning the election, he officially changed his party identification as a Republican. As a matter of fact, polling among Democrats in Pennsylvania held a favorable view of Specter than Republicans, 62-55. Despite the incumbent Specter receiving many well known endorsements, including an endorsement by the state Democratic Party at 77% of their members, the race between Sestak and Specter has drawn to an almost dead heat.

Despite the White House supporting Specter's change in party identification, they have now distanced themselves from them. Today, President Obama flew OVER Pennsylvania into Ohio to talk jobs. Vice President Biden was in the state… to deliver a commencement address at a university. The White House believes that (Admiral) Sestak is the better candidate to win in November.

PREDICTION: I think with the anti-incumbency mood in this country plus Specter's age and now lack of support from the White House, Sestak will win the Democratic nomination for the US Senate race in Pennsylvania. I highly doubt that Specter will pull a Liebermann and run as an Independent in Pennsylvania, but I am not ruling that out. (UPDATE: And as I was about to post….. Sestak has won the Dem nomination for US Senate in PA)

Meanwhile, there is another race to watch for in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the special election in Pennsylvania's 12th to fill the seat due to the death of John Murtha. It is in the southwestern part of the state and it gerrymanders its way into towns like Uniontown, Latrobe, and Johnstown. It was the only congressional district in the US to flip from blue to red in the 2008 presidential election. Even though the district identifies as 55% Democrat, Democrats such as President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Specter, and Gov. Ed Rendell are viewed to be unpopular. The most recent poll showed a close race with the Republican Tim Burns having a one point lead over Mark Critz (NOTE: Margin of Error is plus/minus 3.4%).

This election could potentially set off a series of chain of events similar to what took place in KY-2 back in 1994. That too was a special election. That eventually led to the "Republican Revolution of '94" where the GOP picked up 54 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate. Of course the difference between now and then was that Republicans were WINNING special elections and not engaged in what it seems to the party's future. So far, they have been 0-for the last six special elections. For example, in NY-23 the REPUBLICAN candidate was deemed to be too moderate. The Tea Party candidate was endorsed by Sarah Palin impersonator Tina Fey Sarah Palin (Really, that was Sarah Palin? I apologize to Tina Fey). RESULT: NY-23 is led by a Democratic. In fact, the Republican ENDORSED the Democrat.

PREDICTION: Even though in recent Presidential elections Pennsylvania has been a blue state, I have heard it called the reddest of the blue states. Though it should be noted that the last time it went for a Republican presidential candidate was in 1988. Pretty much the strategy is you win the big cities and the urban areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and then try to pick off the smaller areas in between. Even some areas of the district are close to Pittsburgh, I think we could possibly see this being a leaning GOP congressional District in a blue state (Kind of like TX-17. Texas: RED state, but you see this path of blue for the US House in the middle crossing over from the underneath Tarrant County into Waco and eventually ending in Aggie Land at College Station. They vote one party in a presidential election, but in legislative and state elections they vote the other party). The Republicans would prefer to break their streak here because it would garner attention. It is looking likely they will win the special election in HI-1 (mainly due to Dem infighting), but it is not to anyone's surprise. Honestly, I would not be surprised by any result. (UPDATE: Almost a double digit win.)


 

KENTUCKY

Well, as I was typing this entry, fivethirtyeight.com and MSNBC have called the US Senate Kentucky Republican Primary (BOO!! BOO!! HISS!! Hey, hey, hey…. Equal time. Remember, this isn't Fox….)

Anyway, Rand Paul, the son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, has won the Republican nomination for the US Senate race in Kentucky to replace the retiring Jim Bunning. Rand Paul becomes the first Tea Party backed candidate to win the Republican nomination. As we have seen in recent days, Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Rep. Alan Mollohan (R-WV 1). Why those guys lost? They weren't CONSERVATIVE enough. These guys had 80%+ conservative voting record. What exactly does their base want? A return to the barter system?

We are already seeing this to where in order for established Republicans to stay in office during this election cycle they have to go far to the right like Governor Rick Perry of Texas claiming he knows the Tenth Amendment and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) proclaiming to "complete the danged fence." (Okay, okay…. Here's the real ad. There are some misconceptions though. EXAMPLE: That sheriff is NOT the sheriff of the county in that ad.)

Also, even though his name was not on the ballot, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did have an impact on this race. He had personally hand-picked Trey Grayson to run in the primary race for Sen. Bunning's seat. So Trey Grayson was a representation of the establishment. Meanwhile, Rand Paul represented the anti-establishment that seems to grip the current turmoil of the Republican Party. This may be the start of a trend where we see incumbents unseated by the anti-establishment wing of the party in the primaries.

ARKANSAS

Real quick, before any more elections are called, I will briefly touch on the US Senate Democratic Primary between Senator Blanche Lincoln and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Lincoln is facing a tough primary challenge due to her stances on the health care bill (against the public option, threatened to filibuster if a bill contained it). Opinion polls expect that the race is heading towards a runoff (if no candidate gets 50% or higher, primary goes to runoff between the top two), but the returns are showing Lincoln at 49%. The best case for Sen. Lincoln would be to win it outright. If she is forced into a runoff, that would not be well for her. The runoff is slated for June 8. Either way, I can safely predict that the White House will not support her in part due to her stance on the health care bill.


I promise that the next blog post will be better organized than this one. I didn't get the writing itch until later in the day. Expect some new ones down the road.
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