August Primaries

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I’m a bit scatterbrained this afternoon, but I wanted to post some thoughts on what happened in primaries around the country.

My sister yesterday asked what I thought about Joe Lieberman/Ned Lamont thing in Connecticut. This was my reply:

I think it’s telling that not only do enough Democrats in his home state want Lieberman out to force a challenge, but enough are actually making it interesting.

Well, of course Joe lost the race, and now the Democratic establishment are putting their support behind Lamont. From Harry Ried and Chuck Shumer, via Swing State Project:

The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee. Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont’s candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run.

Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.

This ties in nicely with a recent Washington Post poll, which showed support for Democrats (actual Dems, that is) increasing across the country. In particular, two areas of the poll were interesting for me. The first is great news for Dems:

The generic ballot question, asking voters in general which party they would support in November, remained unchanged from the spring, with 52 percent favoring Democrats and 39 percent supporting Republicans. The lead narrows to 10 points among those who say they are closely following their local races.

It gets worse for Republicans (who’ve held the majority in the House since 1994):

Especially worrisome for members of Congress is that the proportion of Americans who approve of their own representative’s performance has fallen sharply. Traditionally, voters may express disapproval of Congress as a whole but still vote for their own member, even from the majority party. But 55 percent now approve of their lawmaker, a seven-percentage-point drop over three months and the lowest such finding since 1994, the last time control of the House switched parties.

Taken in context, this bodes especially poor for incumbents who’ve shown loyalty to President Bush. If I were in, say, northern New Mexico, fighting a tough battle to retain my seat, I might be getting worried.

For that matter, I wonder if there will be an affect on the House race down here. Al Kissling has a chance to make some waves under this political climate. There’s three months to go before the election in November, and that’s a long time.

The only other comments I would make regard the Republican primary in Michigan:

Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz lost his party’s nomination Tuesday, falling to a staunchly conservative challenger in a primary race dominated by a struggle over GOP principles that attracted more than $1 million in spending by outside groups.

Schwarz, a moderate who supported abortion rights, was defeated by former state lawmaker Tim Walberg.


Walberg, a former pastor, contended Schwarz’s views did not represent those of constituents in the rural southern Michigan district. He vowed to vote against pork-laden spending plans, tax increases and the expansion of abortion and gay marriage.

So, while Republican pundits all over the Internets are harping about the Democrats ripping each other apart in Connecticut, the GOP from across the country did the same thing in Michigan.

Furthermore, Lieberman’s loss, coupled with Schwarz’s, may be the final nail in the coffin of moderates and bipartisanship in Congress. And we have Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay to thank:

Transforming the Republican Party into a highly disciplined organization determined to get its way without cooperation from the Democrats was an another objective shared by Gingrich and DeLay. Indeed, the former, not the latter, deserves the credit for substituting British-style party discipline and ideological extremism for bipartisan cooperation and moderation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Name an innovation associated with DeLay, and one discovers that it was previously institutionalized by Gingrich: developing redistricting rules to favor Republicans; encouraging House Republicans to vote as a unified bloc; weakening seniority so as to strengthen party leaders; freezing the opposition party out of a role in governance. It would take a decade after the Republican revolution of 1994 for the U. S. House of Representatives to fully transform itself into a body that no longer made a pretense of valuing fairness and deliberation. But that is only because Tom DeLay possessed a political advantage denied Gingrich: a fellow Republican in the White House.

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