Specter Loses, “Tea Party” Wins
It’s curtains for Arlen Specter’s career in the U.S. Senate. The veteran senator from Pennsylvania went down in defeat on Tuesday, losing to challenger Rep. Joe Sestak in a tight race for the Democratic Senate nomination.
Specter’s loss makes him the latest incumbent to get the boot from angry voters unhappy with just about everybody in Washington.
Specter has served in the Senate for 30 years but his political fortune may have been sealed last year when he switched party allegiance from Republican to Democrat.
During the campaign, Specter offered Pennsylvania voters his clout, experience and seniority — but it wasn’t enough to hold off Sestak, a two-term congressman who waged an aggressive campaign against Specter.
“It’s been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania, ” the senator said. His brief concession speech in Philadelphia was interrupted by a man in the audience who shouted: “Thank you, Arlen.”
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, a jubilant Sestak claimed victory.
“This is what Democracy looks like – a win for the people over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, DC, ” Sestak said to cheering supporters.
Shifting immediately into general election mode, Sestak continued the anti-establishment theme, saying he’s running for the Senate because he wants to help bring accountability back to Washington.
It’s a cliffhanger in Arkansas, where another closely-watched Senate primary ended without a clear decision.
Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln is headed for a runoff next month against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. Lincoln failed to win 50 percent of the vote in the three-way race primary that was needed to avoid a run-off.
The setback for Lincoln came amid the wave of anti-Washington voter anger that has imperiled incumbents across the country.
In Kentucky, it was the Tea Party versus the Republican Party and the upstart political movement won. Tea Party favorite Rand Paul (a doctor and son of Rep. Ron Paul) handily defeated Trey Grayson, the candidate anointed by Kentucky’s top Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Paul claimed victory and promptly addressed the Washington establishment.
“I have a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: “We’ve come to take our government back,” Paul said in his victory speech in Bowling Green. Paul declared the Tea Party movement is huge, suggesting that members are a political force to be reckoned with.
“This Tea Party movement is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and that we want things done differently.”
Now the focus moves to the November midterm elections, where Sestak will face Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Paul will square off against Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky.
Photo Credits: REUTERS/Bradley Bower ( Specter and his wife Joan Specter depart his campaign reception following his concession speech in Philadelphia) REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (Sestak with reporters before casting his primary ballot in Gradyville, PA) REUTERS/STR New (Rand Paul gives his victory speech in Bowling Green, Kentucky)