Tag Archives: primary challenge

Tomorrow’s Primaries Could Chart Destiny for 2010

In 2006, Democrats took back control of Congress because of public outrage at George Bush and the War in Iraq.  But we should remember it almost didn’t happen – until August, when Ned Lamont proved that Democrats can galvanize that energy to beat an incumbent Senator in a primary.  Tomorrow, Pennsylvania Democrats will be asked to dump ex-Republican Arlen Specter – and in Arkansas, conservative Senator Blanche Lincoln also faces a primary challenge.  And just like Joe Lieberman, the Party establishment is circling the wagons in both states – with President Obama shooting a radio ad that claims Lincoln “took on big insurance companies” to pass health care.  A new poll shows that voters prefer Democrats over Republicans, which suggests that 2010 may not be the nightmare everyone fears.  But it also showed that voters hate incumbents.  If Democrats want to avoid a bloodbath in November, Specter and Lincoln must be defeated.

In a development that Democrats are celebrating, last week’s Associated Press poll found that voters prefer a “generic Democrat” over a “generic Republican” for Congress by a 45-40 margin.  That’s almost a complete reversal from last month, but the poll also shows a dangerous trend – only one-third would re-elect their own Congressmember.  Far from just Teabaggers on the right who are waging a Stalinist purge of Republicans, there is disenchantment on the left that explains the malaise.  And so far, the Democratic leadership and Obama White House are refusing to recognize it.

If Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter survive the Democratic primary, it will only get worse.  There is no guarantee Specter or Lincoln would beat their Republican challengers in November – in fact, odds are against it.  In Arkansas, Republican John Boozeman beats Lincoln by 14 points.  In Pennsylvania, Specter quit the GOP because right-winger Pat Toomey would beat him in the primary.  If they face each other in the general, Specter loses byeight points.

Does this mean their progressive challengers – Bill Halter in Arkansas, and Joe Sestak in Pennyslvania – would win?  Not necessarily, but the odds are much greater.  Match-up polls show both Democrats doing better against the Republican in November, but a more important metric is the “favorable/unfavorable” numbers.  As incumbents, Lincoln and Specter have high name-recognition – and voters don’t like them.  You can’t convince someone who’s already made up their mind to change it.  With Halter and Sestak, the outcome is more fluid – because voters will be open to persuasion come November.

Democratic elites always lecture progressive activists about “electability” – how we must temper our idealism and support for liberal candidates for the “greater good” of defeating Republicans.  And yet, Organizing for America – the President’s “field team” that helped him defeat Hillary Clinton and John McCain – is urging supporters to help Lincoln and Specter win the primary.  While I’m sure many of us would support Lincoln and Specter (albeit grudgingly) if they win the primary, to do so now is sick and counterproductive.

Let’s review things for a minute.  As a moderate Republican, Arlen Specter co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007 – but balked in 2009 because of pressure from the right-wing of his party.  After becoming a Democrat in April 2009, he nevertheless remained opposed to EFCA and did not repudiate his prior support for a flat tax when I asked him directly.  He’s been a decent Democratic vote over the past year, but only after Sestak opted to challenge him.

Blanche Lincoln’s record is even worse.  As the White House pushed for health care reform, she vowed to filibuster any bill that included a “public option” – even when her Arkansas constituents supported it.  In other words, she was entering in cahoots with Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans to block any vote on President Obama’s highest legislative priority – one he took so seriously that everything else had to wait.  If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a spine, this would have been treated as an act of war.

Senators rarely lose re-election – not to mention a primary in their own party – which is why it’s so hard to hold them accountable with a serious candidate.  When Joe Lieberman lost in 2006, it was the first time that a Democratic Senator failed to get re-nominated in fourteen years.  The fact that two incumbents now stand to get primaried in the same year is remarkable, and should be a serious “wake-up call” to the Democratic Party leaders.

But the leadership is circling the wagons – because the Senate is a “club” (often known as the world’s most exclusive club), and incumbents are terrified that a primary challenge to Lincoln and Specter could mean they’re next.  San Francisco readers will recall how the State Senate rallied around Carole Migden (despite her liabilities as an incumbent), when Mark Leno ran against her in 2008.  What we see right now at the national level is not all that different.

Like we’ve seen before, the task for progressives now is to save the Democratic Party from itself.  We will not see the glaring “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans shrink if Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter win the primary.  They will stand to lose to a cadre of right-wing challengers in November, which will only embolden the Sarah Palin crowd to bring back the Bush Administration.  That’s why it’s so crucial to help Halter and Sestak.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Arkansas or Pennsylvania to help out.  MoveOn can help you call its Arkansas members, and recruit them to volunteer for Bill Halter.  Joe Sestak’s campaign website enables you to make virtual calls to Pennsylvania.  It is these tools that elected Barack Obama, and now we’re using them to rescue his legacy.

Of course, everyone knows that Joe Lieberman was a sore loser after Ned Lamont won the primary, stayed in the race as an independent and – with active support from Karl Rove – won re-election.  But the same won’t happen this time.  In both Arkansas and Pennsylvania, the deadlines to file as an independent candidate have already lapsed.

Paul Hogarth is the Managing Editor of Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily, where this piece was first published.

AD 69: Solorio Stands Up for OC’s Streets

OK, maybe my Assembly Member is just preparing himself for a possible primary challenge. Or perhaps, he’s preparing for higher office. Or maybe, he’s just doing this because he really does care about Orange County, and about the quality of our life here. But whatever the motivation (personally, I’m just thinking he cares about us in OC), Jose Solorio is doing a good thing.

Check out what I saw from Solorio’s office on Orange Juice this morning:

At the May 1st meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim) requested that Orange County begin sharing Proposition 42 state transportation dollars with cities to help them rehabilitate local streets. The Board unanimously agreed and directed staff to come back within three months with recommendations on how the money would be allocated.

“This is an effort that I began while I was a Santa Ana City Councilmember. My goal has been to encourage county government to share some of its Prop. 42 transportation dollars with individual Orange County cities to improve the condition of their local streets. I estimate that cities, in total, would receive approximately $10 to $14 million per year. I am grateful the Board of Supervisors took leadership on this important issue,” said Assemblyman Solorio.The Board also voted to share $62 million state transportation bond funding (Proposition 1B) with Orange County Board of Supervisor districts.

But wait, it gets better! Follow me after the flip for more…

Here’s the rest of that press release from Solorio, courtesy of Orange Juice:

Assemblyman Solorio is also carrying a piece of state legislation, AB 823, which encourages revenue sharing by the County of Orange, but is putting this measure on hold since the County is now developing a revenue sharing plan. For example, the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana are experiencing a backlog of arterial and residential street projects that is estimated to cost more than $500 million. Proposition 42 dollars are required to be used for state and local transportation purposes.

Since the County is now only responsible for maintaining 358 unincorporated area street miles, given the various annexations over the past few decades, revenues will be available in 2008 that could be shared with cities within the County. If Orange County’s Proposition 42 dollars are not used for specified purposes within certain time periods, they would be given back to the state and be used in other counties. “The condition of streets in many Orange County communities is deplorable. I want to do everything I can to provide more money to all Orange County cities rather than give money back to other counties,” Solorio said.

Thank you, Assembly Member Solorio! It’s about time that someone actually does something about the deplorable state of our streets in Orange County, and especially communities in Central Orange County. Just looking outside my window, the street that I live on looks like a mess with all those cracks and potholes. However, I feel lucky when I compare the streets in my neighborhood to the streets farther north in Santa Ana. Some of those streets are so bad that it’s nearly impossible to drive them. My dad once got a flat tire just driving on Standard Street, just north of Edinger in Santa Ana.

Between this and the successful “citizen workshops” and sponsoring legislation to stop voter intimidation, Solorio really is making his mark on this community. And whether or not the primary rumors are true, Solorio probably won’t have to worry about it so long as he continues his excellent community service. I’m just glad to see that we have representatives in Sacramento who actually care about doing what’s best for Orange County. : )