It’s a Tough Primary Day for Establishment Candidates

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Poor Arlen looks like he needs a hug.
Poor Arlen looks like he needs a hug. Photo: illiam Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Not in New York, of course. But Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky (and also Oregon, but nobody cares) are holding their Senate primaries today and some big races could serve as bellwethers for November. In Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, who has been a senator literally since the dawn of time but a Democrat for only a year, is neck-and-neck with a surging Congressman Joe Sestak. In Arkansas, Democratic moderate Blanche Lincoln has seemingly managed to overcome a challenge by progressive Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. But while Lincoln, who angered liberals by turning against the public option during the health-care debate, is expected to win, she'll be forced into a runoff with Halter if she doesn't receive a clean majority in the three-man race (some other guy is pulling in a few points in polls).

And in Kentucky, Ron Paul's son, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, is set to trounce Trey Grayson, the secretary of State who was backed by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and the party establishment. Yet another example of the power of the Tea Party — particularly when a Paul is involved. (Too bad Ron didn't have more kids; they could have dominated American politics like the Kennedys.) Even if Specter and Lincoln pull off their primaries, the difficulty they've had as incumbents, and the failure of the establishment pick in Kentucky, should show just how hostile the political climate has become for "insider" candidates this year. In case you hadn't figured it out already.

What to watch in Tuesday's primaries [Politico]