Tuesday more of a message for GOP than Democrats
Oh, certainly there was something in there for the Democrats – perhaps a bit of false hope – but Rand Paul defeated the establishment GOP pick handily (hello, Bob Bennett? Charlie Crist?) in Kentucky sending the real message of the night.
Arlen Specter’s defeat was neither a surprise or a disappointment. Who wants a turncoat Republican under a Democratic flag of convenience, there only because it was clear he couldn’t win a Republican primary (see above and join him with Bennett, Crist and Trey Grayson)? Joe Sestak, a former admiral and Democratic congressman, was a much more attractive Democratic candidate.
Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Arkansas Democratic Senator, was also the establishment Democratic pick and supported by both President Obama and Bill Clinton. She only managed a run-off with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
The seat held by John Murtha went to one of his aides. I’m not at all surprised by that. I’d have loved the irony of a Republican win, but it wasn’t likely according to the polls. Murtha was a king of pork. No one will argue he didn’t lard it on his district. And, in times of economic hardship, voters may have chosen in the hope his former aide will continue that, rather than taking a chance with a Republican. Some analysts see the election as a bellwether for the fall. I’m not seeing that at all, and there’s always the danger for the Donks of giving it more importance than it deserves.
So, what if any messages were sent? For the GOP, the Tea Party effect is real. The message is clear – smaller, less costly and less intrusive government (lower taxes, much less spending). There are enough establishment candidates languishing by the wayside at the moment for even the slowest among the party to begin to understand that. There is certainly an element of anti-incumbency evident there.
For the Democrats, I’d say the message is mixed. It’s hard to say with Lincoln hanging on, a Republican turncoat turned out by a Congressional Democrat and holding on to a Congressional open seat means anti-incumbent fever is sweeping the ranks of the Democratic base. I believe there is an anti-incumbent fever, but it resides mostly among the right and independents.
We’ll know more as we see how the vote breaks down in the key races. I’m very interested to see what independents did. But for right now, the establishment GOP better be responding to their wakeup call and tweaking their message – and perhaps their candidates – for this fall.