Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From Without: US Polarization Ramps Up

It’s a big primary day in Election 2010 with primaries in four states, including a special election in Pennsylvania, a battleground state. I was perusing the opinions of those within and without the US today and find I have to agree with the “without” point of view, courtesy of the Manchester Guardian.

“The polarisation of US politics is likely to gather pace tomorrow in a host of contests across the country in which Republican and Democratic establishment candidates face being thrown out, victims of a wave of populist hostility towards Washington”

Gee, no kidding.

In Arkansas Conservidem Blanche Lincoln faces a fierce come from behind challenge by Lt. Governor Bill Halter, a darling of the Netroots, who has widespread financial support from the left. The left is outraged at Lincoln’s behavior during the healthcare debate – including the self-serving “Louisiana Purchase” where Lincoln traded her vote for special treatment of Louisianans. Word is that there has been a record turnout in the early vote in Arkansas, making me think that the polls may have it wrong. A heavy turnout is sure to favor Halter, giving him a boost to push the race to a runoff if not an outright win tonight.

Pennsylvania, I think, will exchange right of center Arlen Specter for left of center Joe Sestak. Specter, who couldn’t win against Teabagger Pat Toomey to save his soul, switched parties in midstream, giving Sestak good reason to run as the “real Democrat.” Truth to tell, Specter is only a fair-weather friend to Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has verbally supported Specter in the past, has characterized Specter’s support this way: “Arlen is always with us except when we need him.”

Excitement is high in Pennsylvania, although they have had rain today and that has always kept the numbers down. Although like Arkansas, I see this as a boost to Sestak’s chances rather than Specter’s

So the way it is shaping up, Pennsylvania will have true choice in November, between a rightwing Teabagger who has the ultra conservative Liberty First PAC bankrolling him, and former Vice-Admiral Joe Sestak, the highest-ranked retired military officer to run for office since forever.

The Pennsylvania special election in PA-12 to fill John Murtha's unexpired term remains at high interest. Democrat Mark Critz and Republican Tim Burns have squared off at each other over Cap and Trade, both of which say they oppose because of the importance of coal in the district. Burns says Critz is being disingenuous because he was on John Murtha's staff, and actually supported the bill. FiveThirtyEight.com has Burns in the lead by one point so I guess we'll have to wait until the bitter end to see how CD-12 will go.

Then we have Kentucky, which in its Republican Senate race is poised to dump party favorite Trey Greyson for Rand Paul, another darling of the Tea Party movement. Paul is going to win that one, but who he will run against in November is still up for grabs. The race is between Daniel Mongiardo and Arkansas (Arkansas?) Attorney General Jack Conway. Conway is better-financed and has spent his way up to a stalemate in the polls against Mongiardo, who has better name-recognition, he having almost beat retiring Senator Jim Bunning in 2004.

I would love to see an out-and-out Teabagger run against either of these guys.

The only safe bet, I guess is Oregon, which will easily tonight renominate, and then re-elect its US Senator, Ron Wyden, in November. The challenge in Oregon, I am told, is to remind people that there is a primary today.

So, yes, the Guardian has it exact. As we slowly grind down to November, Americans are choosing up sides that are more to the extremes of each party, with Republicans splitting their votes between rightwing Teabaggers and mainstream Republicans, and Democrats also doing their share to shift leftward.

I guess the only problem with all of this is that it leaves the unaligned, the Independent Voter, aka those who don’t know what they’re about, out in the cold.

To whom I have to say this: time now to choose sides.

And to choose wisely.

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