Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Primary shows incumbents no seat is safe

August 10, 2006


— Republican, Democrat. House, Senate. White, black.

The moderates fared worst.

But primary voters did not discriminate Tuesday night, dispensing defeat to Sen. Joe Lieberman and two House members in an unusually strong, single-night repudiation of incumbents.

"The winds of change are blowing," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat.

"I don't see it as an anti-incumbent move," said Vice President Dick Cheney, adding that the night's two other lawmaker-losers, Reps. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., and Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., don't involve "national ramifications."

Schwarz and Lieberman shared a connection, though, and it crossed party lines.

Both are moderates in their parties who sought to survive in an era of intense political division. Both were targeted for defeat by activist groups from outside their states, and both fell to rivals offering a harder edge.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., right, speaks to supporters during an election night party in Decatur, Ga. McKinney lost Tuesday to former Dekalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson for Georgia's Fourth District congressional seat. On Wednesday, she  blamed electronic voting for her loss.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., right, speaks to supporters during an election night party in Decatur, Ga. McKinney lost Tuesday to former Dekalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson for Georgia's Fourth District congressional seat. On Wednesday, she blamed electronic voting for her loss.

For her part, McKinney suffered her second primary defeat in four years in a roller-coaster career marked by incendiary public comments and confrontations. In June, she apologized to the House after scuffling with a Capitol police officer. Both she and her rival, Hank Johnson, are black, as are a majority of the voters in their district.

Anti-incumbent mood

Overall, the polls suggest incumbents have more reason to be concerned than they have in recent campaigns.

A Washington Post-ABC News survey this month showed an anti-incumbent mood akin to 1994, when a landslide swept Democrats from power and ushered in an era of Republican control in Congress. In the survey, 53 percent described their mood as anti-incumbent, only 29 percent said they were pro-incumbent. In June 1994, the result was 54-29 percent.

Paradoxically, 55 percent of those polled said they approved of the way their own representative was doing his job, with 37 percent disapproving. That marks a decline from the levels regularly recorded in the late 1990s, although it still leaves individual lawmakers with better grades than the 51-38 percent rating of 1994.

Democrats and Republicans both focused on Ned Lamont's victory over Lieberman in claiming a clamor for change would benefit their own campaigns this fall.

"The perception was that (Lieberman) was too close to George Bush and this was, in many respects, a referendum on the president more than anything else," said Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Chuck Schumer of New York, the party's leader and the head of its Senate campaign committee.

Republicans said Democrats had it exactly backward.

"The Harry Truman, JFK Democratic icon was defeated yesterday by someone who ran essentially a single-issue race. I think it is not only a bad thing for the county, it is a bad thing for the Democratic Party," said Republican chairman Ken Mehlman, referring to Lieberman. He said Republicans "welcome independent-minded, Democrats like Joe Lieberman."

Outside influences

Schwarz was endorsed by Bush, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the National Rifle Assn.

Outside groups spent an estimated $3 million combined on the race.

If Schwarz was trounced by conservatives, Lieberman fell to liberal primary voters who saw the veteran Democrat as too accommodating to the president and too supportive of the war in Iraq.

He said he intends to run as an independent, adding he didn't want to see the likes of Lamont's supporters "take over my party or the country."

A CBS News-New York Times survey of Connecticut voters leaving their polling places found that 78 percent of them disapproved of the decision to go to war with Iraq, and only 22 percent approved. Sixty percent of the opponents voted for Lamont.

Nearly 60 percent said Lieberman was too close to Bush.

Outside groups played a role in the Connecticut race, as well, although in a less visible way. Lamont's candidacy drew energy from bloggers who lampooned Lieberman, and members of raised more than $250,000 for him.

Just as Schwarz had the backing of his party establishment, Lieberman's supporters included the Democratic hierarchy. Bill Clinton campaigned for him, as did several incumbent senators.

McKinney's loss seemed to have little, if any, connection to a national trend.

"I'm getting tired of being embarrassed. She's an embarrassment to the whole state," said James Vining, 72, who said he voted for her rival, Hank Johnson.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 10 months ago

For 25 years we've been promised affordable healthcare by both parties and 46 million or so are still waiting. $10,500 a year is a recent figure for minimum coverage of a family. For most americans that comes to either 10% to 50% of their income. For the sake of economic growth,reducing visits to the emergency room,removing healthcare from special interest financing of campaigns and reducing the cost of paperwork which is now 33% of the cost of medical care National Healthcare is the only practical way to approach the matter. There is no need to reinvent the wheel as medicare is the logical means in which to provide the service.

Elected officials are covered till the end of time by the taxpayers. It seems all taxpayers deserve that privilege. Some of the funding could be found by reducing the incredible wasteful spending within the defense department and Homeland Security Department which really was not necessary.

Otherwise replacing 90% of incumbents is the only other option.

xenophonschild 11 years, 10 months ago


Go narc some poor wretch and congratulate youself on what a pathetic conservative lollipop you are.

Liberal Democrats are the only true saviors of the country - FDR, William the Great - and will be again.

drewdun 11 years, 10 months ago

First, let's get one thing straight - a person who constantly enables the radical right wing, otherwise known as the national Republican Party, is no moderate. Why do you think li'l Joe's been getting such support from luminaries like Dick Cheney, Bush (through Tony Snow), and that clear-cut-closet-case Ken Mehlman? Joe has been such a good little tool, providing cover for these 'people' for years, and now they owe him payback for his gratitude, which they are lavishing very publicly, and which Joe is oh-so-reluctantly basking in. With support from these parasites, is it any wonder that Lieberman lost? And now that the election is over, with the right wing endorsements flying, with Joe's completely selfish and contemptible behavior on full display, is there any question that he deserved to lose?

As to the Republican 'counter-attack' yesterday and today: has there ever been a more transparent exhibit of fear and desperation? For those who missed out, the response carried with it the pettiness of a child, yet managed to show a party so drunk on its own power, so smugly arrogant, that no insult to voter's intelligence is too great (Then again, their 'Defeat-ocrats' reply was not intended for mass consumption, it was targeted at a group that has demonstrated their lack of intelligence again and again: the base of the Republican Party. I'm guessing median Republican IQ is hovering around 70). We are told that any attempt to criticize, or, gasp, even change the disastrous course the country is on will embolden terrorists. In fact, it is implied that if you support anyone but the Republicans (or pseudo-Republicans) then you are most likely a terrorist, or, at least, a terrorist-sympathizer.

In the midst of this hate-filled Get Out The Right Wing Vote moment, what are we not hearing? We are not hearing the story of how we got to this point. We are not hearing a justification for our presence in Iraq, nor are we hearing a real plan for our presence there, other than the purely political slogan 'stay the course' (whatever that means). We are not hearing how this war is making democracy and peace closer in the Mid-east (at this point, a laughable assertion) and us safer at home. What we are seeing instead are right-wing election year staples: sheer, unadulterated hatred; outrageous fear-mongering ('vote Republican or DIE'); and the use of our troops as props in the right-wing leadership's power play. ANYTHING to change the subject from the stunning failure of that same leadership - no charge is too ridiculous, no vile slander too disconnected with reality, anything but a reality-based discussion on the tack of our nation. In reality, I guess I should be used to this; after all I lived through the 2002 and 2004 campaigns. And if you thought those brought out the full dishonor of the radical right for all to see, after this election they will look like child's play, now that the voters have let the fascists know they are in deep sh!t

drewdun 11 years, 10 months ago

"There's that looney left superiority complex again. Just keep telling the American people how stupid they are"

The base of the Republican Party is not 'the American people.' Thank you for proving my point, clown.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.