U.S. Democrats see good news in primary results

Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:34pm EDT

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* Democrats heartened by Tuesday's primary results

* Republicans nominate another Tea Party-backed candidate

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - After hearing months of dire political predictions, President Barack Obama's Democrats took heart on Wednesday from primary results that spared an endangered senator and highlighted Republican Party divisions ahead of November's elections.

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet's primary win in Colorado bucked a national anti-incumbent trend and was good news for Obama, who campaigned for Bennet in a bitter fight against a challenger backed by former President Bill Clinton.

Republicans, meanwhile, saw candidates backed by the party establishment go down to defeat to outsiders in Colorado and Connecticut Senate primaries that could complicate their chances in November.

"Democrats definitely had the better night," analyst Jennifer Duffy of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said. "Pulling an incumbent back from the edge of defeat in an environment like this is a good result."

Democrats have been battling a strong anti-Washington and anti-incumbent voter mood in their quest to retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in November.

Republicans have a strong chance to take control of at least the House in the Nov. 2 election. They must gain 39 House seats and 10 Senate seats to gain congressional majorities that would slam the brakes on Obama's legislative agenda.

Bennet, appointed to the Senate seat in Colorado last year when Ken Salazar became Interior Secretary, enters the general election race as a slight favorite against conservative Tea Party-backed Republican nominee Ken Buck.

Bennet's victory suggested there could be limits to the anti-incumbent mood that swept away two of his Senate colleagues and a handful of House incumbents in primaries earlier this year.

Bennet made no commitment about how much he would rely on Obama in the general campaign, and Republicans said they would ensure he could not paint himself as a Washington outsider.

DISTANCE FROM OBAMA?

"While there's no doubt that Bennet will now attempt to distance himself from his party leaders in Washington, his liberal record in support of wasteful spending and bigger government bureaucracy speaks for itself," said Republican Senator John Cornyn, head of the party's Senate campaign arm.

Colorado's Buck is the fourth Republican backed by the conservative Tea Party to clinch a Senate nomination -- following Rand Paul in Kentucky, Marco Rubio in Florida and Sharron Angle in Nevada -- and their candidacies create new problems for Republicans.

All four have been unpredictable and must prove they can expand their appeal beyond the Tea Party's conservative core. Their nominations boost Democratic chances in four states critical to Republican hopes of capturing the Senate.

"These candidates have created some problems for Republicans, and they will probably cost Republicans some opportunities they should have had," Duffy said.

In Connecticut, the victory of wealthy wrestling executive Linda McMahon over former Representative Rob Simmons in the Senate primary was another triumph for outsiders over the establishment.

McMahon has promised to drop as much as $50 million of her fortune into the race against state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, but Democrats said they plan to make her former role as chief executive of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. a prime campaign issue.

The popular wrestling enterprise offers staged spectacles featuring scantily clad women and heavily muscled men bashing each other with props.

"I think the outcome of last night's elections ... were nothing but good news for the Democratic Party," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

In Georgia, U.S. Representative Nathan Deal narrowly defeated Karen Handel in a Republican runoff for governor that had become a proxy battle between potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Handel was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee. Deal, a former U.S. representative, was backed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (Editing by Jackie Frank)

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Comments (7)
akcoyote wrote:
So, dems beating dems in the primaries is good for dems but repubs beating repubs in the same primaries is bad for repubs. Makes perfect sense to me!

Aug 11, 2010 4:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Cru wrote:
So, dems beating dems in the primaries is good for dems but repubs beating repubs in the same primaries is bad for repubs. Makes perfect sense to me!
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Republican (establishment) vs Tea Party : Establishment loses = Good for Democrats; noobs for opponents

Democrat (establishment) vs challenger : Establishment wins = Good for Democrats; the establishment isn’t automatic defeat at the polls.

Basically, the Democratic brand is in better shape. The Republican brand is having infighting publicly.

How would you like if in chess, a growing portion of your pawns suddenly turned grey and your opponent could choose to move them on their move?

Aug 11, 2010 4:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
oreoexpo wrote:
Dems are trying to pass this off as an anti-incumbent mood. It isn’t. It’s an anti-big government mood. That’s why the established republicans were defeated in the primaries, because the tea partiers are nearly as ticked off with the republicans as they are with the democrats. The democrats, on the other hand, tend to like big government and therefore have no problem with picking an establishment candidate.

The dems are hoping that by passing this off as an anti-incumbent mood, they can dismiss this as an irrational preference without any objective standards which will affect both parties equally, rather than a specific prejudice against big government which will hand them a bloodletting worse even than the one which occurred in 1994. As for the Republicans, believe me that if they get into office only to play the same game as they did in the days of George W, they will be facing a bloodletting just as severe within the next 2-4 years.

Aug 11, 2010 4:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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