Three key senatorial primaries occurring today will help gauge the
country's political mood
and the prospects for both parties heading into
November's elections. The primaries in focus are in Arkansas, where incumbent
Democrat Blanche Lincoln is challenged by Lt. Governor Bill Halter;
Kentucky, where Tea Party candidate Rand Paul faces off against
Secretary of State Trey Grayson to replace retiring GOP Senator Jim
Bunning; and Pennsylvania, where Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen
Specter is challenged by Rep. Joe Sestak. Here's what the elections mean
and what to look for.
- How Bad Is It For Incumbents? The
New York Times' Jeff Zeleny writes, "Two
Democratic senators, with combined Washington experience of nearly 50
years, will discover if they have assembled strong-enough coalitions to
withstand an anti-incumbent surge or if their careers will effectively
end. And an open Senate seat in Kentucky will help show whether Tea
Party advocates can produce an electoral victory."
- Is Fox News
More Powerful Than GOP Establishment? The Washington Post's Dan Balz looks to Kentucky.
"On Monday, Grayson showed the frustration of a candidate who might
have thought he would have a relatively easy path to victory, with the
endorsements of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and much of
his state's GOP leaders. He said that Fox News Channel continually
promoted his opponent and indirectly suggested that the network had more
power within the party than the establishment itself."
- Can the Tea Party and GOP Establishment 'Co-Exist'? The Washington
Post's Chris Cillizza wonders,
"If, as expected, ophthalmologist Rand Paul wins tonight in the Kentucky
Republican Senate primary over Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the
test will be whether the Kentucky GOP's two warring wings can come
together. ... The tea party movement has, to date, resisted any attempt
by the party establishment to co-opt its power -- much less take over
the campaign of one of its own. Having won largely by running against
Washington (and Republicans in Washington), how does Paul reconcile his
past statements against the establishment with a party that knows it
must rally around him?"
- How Will Elections Predict Changing
Congress? Reuters' John Whitesides writes,
"The three primary election battles highlight the biggest day of voting
so far in a year when opinion polls find a sour voter mood fueled by
distrust of Washington and worries that neither party is doing enough to
rescue the economy and restrain government spending. That mood, which
pollsters say is the strongest in decades, threatens to sweep away many
well-known incumbents and put Democratic control of Congress at risk in
November's election when all 435 House of Representatives seats, 36 of
100 Senate seats and 37 of 50 state governorships are at stake."
Obama Still Influence Races? Politico's Jon
Martin and Glenn Thrush write, "Once thought to be an unalloyed
asset for most any Democratic candidate, Obama's personal involvement is
no longer guaranteed - or guaranteed to succeed. In close to a dozen
contests, Obama's intervention hasn't paid dividends. ... Tuesday's crop
of primaries and special elections vividly illustrate the
challenge for Obama: the number of races where he can have a positive
impact has been narrowed by 18 months of constant political warfare,
Democratic electoral defeats and his own missteps."
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