Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Taste of Elections

Confident that it would make for some good debate here at TPS, I wanted to post a brief wrap-up of the major primary elections from Tuesday. Naturally, I begin with the Connecticut Senate race where Democratic challenger Ned Lamont defeated incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman by a 52% to 48% margin. Firstly, we should note the historic nature of this vote and how it only adds to the likelihood that 2006 will prove to be a watershed election, as some of us have been saying for 18 months now. Lieberman is only the 4th sitting senator to lose a primary for reelection since 1980. Even various senators suffering harsh downfalls like Daschle, Packwood, and Robb managed to avoid that fate.

Personally, I'm pleased to see Lieberman rejected by his own party. And I give Connecticut voters credit for not buying the typical incumbent tactics like "I know how the system works." Bullshale. A good senator can become a power broker in his or her 1st term in office. And a really good one can accomplish their goals in 1 or 2 terms and still know when it is time to walk away. Anyway, blame should be shared for the administration's failures in Iraq. George Bush indeed chose that the Iraq War should define his presidency - for better or for worse. Those in Congress had a choice too. And the ones who backed Bush with few questions raised and little oversight offered (such as Senator Joe) should now bear some responsibility too.

Apart from the issue of Iraq, I don't see much difference between sending Lamont or Lieberman to the Senate. Let's see how the idea of Lieberman running as an Independent in the general election plays out. I still think that Joe's too much of an insider to go through with it. I wouldn't be surprised if a deal is brokered that keeps him out of the race. Lieberman could end up with a plush cabinet position to wind up his career in DC and reward his support for Bush's Iraq policies. And don't let the public comments of Republican strategists fool you here. Neither party EVER wants to see any candidate successfully buck the very system that supports the whole racket. The GOP knows the Connecticut race is unwinnable to their candidate under any and all scenarios that may play out later this fall.

The other result getting significant press is the defeat of Cynthia McKinney in Georgia. I wouldn't read too much into this result. McKinney's DeKalb County district again grew tired of her antics. They've done it before. The vote had nothing to do with McKinney's stance on the Middle East, nor with any other issue of substance. This district is solidly Democrat and the vote only reflects an overflow of embarrassment from that notorious right hook the Congresswoman threw at a Capitol policeman a few months ago. But voters have short memories. If funding to the district grows dry, don't be surprised to see Cynthia sent back to Washington. I'll miss her there myself. And I fear for the residents of Georgia with her back in the Peach State. Perhaps K Street will come calling and keep Decatur safe?

Finally, this is my favorite result from the primaries that took place in 5 states yesterday:

In Michigan, Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz, a moderate who supports abortion rights, was defeated by conservative Tim Walberg, a former state lawmaker. The race has drawn more than $1 million from outside groups; Schwarz has received support from President Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

With Bush and McCain having unsuccessfully rallied to Schwarz's defense, the GOP must see this as a vulnerable hold in the general election. That being the case, much like in Connecticut, I'm glad Michigan voters rejected the usual crap from party leadership and took a stand. If it's a toss-up then let the general race be one that involves principle - rather than insider power and big money. Walberg may well have a tough time of it this year. But it will be candidates like him who will be needed in the future once the Republican party finally decides to clean out its own house, or, more likely, once the voters decide to do it for them this November!


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