(10:30 PM update, JMC) Arkansas 59% in. Blanche Lincoln now down to a razor thin 43.3-42.6% lead over progressive favorite Bill Halter, while on the Republican side, Congressman John Boozman has remained above 50% (he currently leads 51-17%)
(10:15 PM update, MacAoidh) The Arkansas numbers are getting interesting. Half the vote is in, and Blanche Lincoln’s lead is almost nil. She’s got 43.6 percent to Bill Halter’s 42.2. There will be a runoff, and it is by no means a sure thing that she’ll survive it.
There are rumors she’ll quit the race now. We can’t speak to those. But on the Republican side, John Boozman is back up over 50 percent (50.1 to be exact) after checking in with 49.9 percent earlier. If Boozman manages to get out of having to be in a runoff while Lincoln and Halter are set to beat each other up for the right to get drummed by a rested and well-funded GOP nominee, the results are likely to be pretty ugly for Arkansas Democrats. Thus the potential retirements.
(9:45 PM update, MacAoidh) Tim Burns just called Mark Critz and conceded the PA-12 race. This is a rather large disappointment, whether the sideshow of the November GOP primary with Bill Russell – who incidentally is an LSU grad – affords Burns an excuse for his poor performance.
Burns had the conservative movement working hard for him. It doesn’t appear to have helped. He didn’t have the ground game, and that’s a function of a district which is more than 60 percent Democrat. PA-12 has some Pittsburgh suburbs in it, but it’s really more of an economically depressed, lower-class small-town area with lots of union men, old people and other dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. Ronald Reagan was able to reel these people in, and at times they’ll vote Republican for President (the district went for McCain in 2008, but as Murtha said that was largely because Obama is black and they’re all racists in Johnstown). But the area just isn’t responsive to a conservative message. Pittsburgh is, and some of the suburbs in Philadelphia might be. And there are some other Republican areas in Pennsylvania.
But even in a good Republican year, Pennsylvania is a heavy lift. There just seems to be too much economic decline in that state – though much of it has been presided over by Democrats, for certain – for the folks to believe in free markets and private-sector growth. Pat Toomey has a good shot to win because he’s just a lot better candidate than Joe Sestak – and he would have been a great deal better than Specter – but the electorate in that state is tough.
The GOP can’t count on Pennsylvania. They should know that by now.
(9:30 PM update, JMC)
- In Pennsylvania, Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter becomes the third incumbent to lose. With 76% in, he trails Congressman Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary 53-47%. Sestak will face Republican Pat Toomey, who very nearly beat Arlen SPecter in the 2004 GOP primary, and who won his own primary with 79% of the vote;
- In Kentucky, more liberal Attorney General Jack Conway is the apparent winner in the Democratic primary with a 44-43% lead. He will face insurgent Republican Rand Paul, who won his primary 59-35% (99% of the vote counted)
- Pa special election 80% in. Democrat Critz down to 53-44%. While we don’t think the Republican will win, it is worth noting that Armstrong County (which voted 2 to 1 for McCain) has 0% of its precincts reporting.
- Arkansas 27% in. Blanche Lincoln has a narrow 45-41% lead over progressive favorite Bill Halter, while on the Republican side, Congressman John Boozman narrowly clings to a 50-16% lead. If this lead holds up, he gets a one month headstart on campaigning for the general election.
(9:25 PM update, Ryan Booth) I thought that I would jump in here with a primer for those who may not follow politics as extensively as we do and who’d like to know what to look for tonight. First of all, the size of Rand Paul’s victory in KY is very significant. Trey Grayson was a perfectly respectable, typical, establishment Republican. In any normal year, he would have won this contest going away. Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul, is thrashing him – a huge victory for the Tea Party and movement conservatives who didn’t just want to settle for a vanilla Republican.
The PA senate primary is important, as polls have consistently shown conservative Republican Pat Toomey thumping Arlen Specter. If Sestak beats Specter today, though, there could be a tight race and the Democrats could have a legitimate chance to win.
The congressional race for the late Rep. Murtha’s seat in southwestern PA is between Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz. Polls have shown a neck-and-neck race, but it’s complicated by the fact that both Burns and Critz are competing in the regular fall primaries as well. Critz had minor opposition, but Burns had a serious primary battle with William Russell, which may hurt Burns against Critz. As I type this, Burns is leading Russell 54% to 46% with 28% of the vote in. If Burns beats Critz but loses the primary to Russell, he would only serve until January.
The Arkansas race on the Democratic side is mainly interesting as a curiosity, as both Lincoln and the more liberal Halter are likely losers in November to Rep. John Boozman. If Boozman can avoid a runoff tonight, he’ll be a near lock to take the seat. A runoff with State Sen. Gilbert Baker would introduce a little uncertainty into the race.
(9:15 PM update, MacAoidh) The AP just called the Pennsylvania Senate Democrat primary for Sestak. So it’s a Sestak-Toomey general. And while Sestak is stronger than Specter, he’s got some issues and he’s definitely beatable – particularly by a top-notch candidate like Toomey in a Republican year.
But then again, the underwhelming performance of Tim Burns in PA-12 to date should temper any enthusiasm Republicans might have in Pennsylvania. That was a race Burns was expecting to be neck-and-neck in, and he led by a point in the polls. Burns’ people were very confident they were going to carry the day. And he’s a good dozen points behind expectations tonight with half the vote counted.
(9:10 PM update, JMC)
- 61% of Pennsylvania in. Sestak not only has the lead, but it’s up to 52.5%
- Arkansas 7% in. Democrats: Lincoln 50-38% over Halter. Republicans: Boozman 52-14%
- Pa special election 51% in. Democrat Critz down to 55-43% – the Republican needs to start moving up if he wants to win
(8:50 PM update, MacAoidh) Charlie Cook’s shop basically says Specter has had it…
(8:40 PM update, JMC)
- 32% of Pennsylvania in. Specter plunges more – only has 50.4% now
- Arkansas STILL 1%. Democrats: Lincoln 48-40% over Halter.
- Pa special election 7% in. Democrat Critz 58/38% – this is the Murtha seat
(8:30 PM update, MacAoidh) In PA-12, so far Mark Critz is up on Tim Burns by a 59-39 count, but the majority of the vote in is from Cambria County, which is Johnstown where John Murtha – and Critz – come from. So those numbers are deceptive, and the conventional wisdom says Tim Burns is still very much in it.
Meanwhile, in AR-1, Princella Smith is running behind Rick Crawford 76-24 in the GOP primary. It’s very early, but she’s got lots of ground to make up. And John Boozman looks like he’s going to avoid a runoff – but you can’t make any judgements yet.
Back in Pennsylvania, they’ve called the Senate GOP primary for Pat Toomey, who looks like he’ll be the odds-on favorite if Specter wins the Dem primary.
(8:25 PM update, JMC)
- 19% of Pennsylvania in. Specter plunges more – only ahead 52-48%.
- Arkansas 1%. Democrats: Lincoln 47-40% over Halter. Republicans: Boozman 51
- Pa special election 4% in. Democrat Critz 59/39% – this is the Murtha seat
(8:15 PM update, JMC)
- 12% of Pennsylvania in. Outstate coming in now – Specter over Sestak now 54-46%.
- Arkansas 1%. Democrats: Lincoln 46-40% over Halter (HUGE vote for the 3rd candidate). Republicans: Boozman 43
- Pa special election 3% in. Democrat Critx 58/39%
- (7:55 PM update, MacAoidh) Remember Patton, with George C. Scott? This item from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the Mark Critz campaign in PA-12 reminded us of that movie – and not quite in the way you might think:
AS THE EVENING stumbles upon us like so many sprinters pushed a few hundred yards too far, one casts about for auguries. It has been a short election, much the way a hanging is a short drop or Hiroshima was a brief skirmish.
At the Holiday Inn, the former Sheraton wherein both Paul Newman and Tom Cruise once laid their heads when they filmed movies here, the Mark Critz campaign was setting up for a night of revelry or anguish, depending upon the numbers. Unlike the movies, the catering hints at a sub-Hollywood budget.
IT HAS BEEN an expensive election. That is the only thing that can explain the cash bar – Banker’s Club gin, Smuggler scotch, some sort of vodka unworthy of the name. There is better stuff directly under the bar for another 75 cents a pop.
“Frankly, I’m ashamed to have that out there,” said one of the bartenders. “I don’t know who picked this.”
The lavish spread will include hotdogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, all priced to go but, it is well to remember, priced nonetheless. Even a bag of chips is a buck.
THERE ARE several ways to read this, none of them fully clear. Theory one: Mark Critz is a big cheapo. Theory two: Mark Critz is out of money. Theory three: Mark Critz is about to win, so they figure folks will gladly pay for a Coors Light to celebrate. Theory four: Mark Critz thinks he’ll lose and doesn’t want to run up any more debt that necessary. Theory five: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee only pays for TV, not drinks, which is yet another reason to hate the DCCC. With so much riding, it is unwise to keep the troops sober by virtue of their own penury.
Why is this reminiscent of Patton? Well, there’s a scene where the famous general is touring the aftermath of a brutal battle. And he notices from the wreckage that the Germans are hauling supplies on horse-drawn carts, which tells him they’re spent.
(7:45 PM update, MacAoidh) One of the interesting primary races tonight is in Arkansas’ 1st District, where former Joseph Cao aide and Newt Gingrich/American Solutions operator Princella Smith is attempting to become the first African-American to be elected to Congress from the state:
(7:40 PM update, JMC)
- Very early Pennsylvania – 1% in. Philly coming in now (Specter country) – Specter over Sestak 65-35%.
- Arkansas just closed. Democrats: Lincoln 43-41% over Halter (HUGE vote for the 3rd candidate). Republicans: Boozman 35%, Holt 22%
- 71% in. More liberal Jack Conway is down to 47-41%
(7:35 PM update, MacAoidh) Not quite sure DNC Chair Tim Kaine has a great finger on the pulse of the American people. Kaine just said Paul’s win in Kentucky was a “stunning loss” and a “show of weakness” for Mitch McConnell.
“Unfortunately for Republicans, ordinary Americans are unlikely to be receptive to extreme candidates like Rand Paul in the general election this November.”
They’re going to paint Paul as an extremist, and he’s going to spend the campaign talking about the Constitution and how the deficit will kill the country. That doesn’t quite sound like a good position for the Democrats to be in.
(7:30 PM update, JMC)
- Very early Pennsylvania – Sestak over Specter 54-46%.
- Arkansas just closed
- 59% in. More liberal Jack Conway is down to 48-40% Swing State Project thinks Conway will pull it out 45-43%
(7:20 PM update, JMC) Jim DeMint, who endorsed Paul, calls his victory “part of an American awakening that is taking place across the country. The Washington establishment threw everything they had at him and yet he prevailed”
(7:15 PM update, JMC) Still waiting on Pennsylvania. Arkansas closed in 15 minutes. 48% in. Rand Paul’s landslide up to a landslide 60-36%, while liberal Jack Conway is down to 49-39%
(7:05 PM update, MacAoidh) Over in Arkansas, a royal embarrassment for incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln. She had requested an absentee ballot, but forgot about that fact. Then she showed up at her local polling place to do the photo-op-of-my-voting-for-myself thing, only to be told all she was getting was a provisional ballot to fill out.
Not quite the Judge Smails treatment, but close.
Lincoln expects to run ahead of Lt. Gov. Bill Halter tonight, but the presence of third candidate D.C. Morrison probably throws the race into what will be an expensive and potentially bloody runoff. And worse for Lincoln, Halter is far to her left – meaning she’ll have to sound like a Republican in the runoff, which will alienate the Democrat base and make her toast against likely GOP nominee John Boozman in the general.
(7:00 PM update, JMC) Last Kentucky update before we start looking at Pennsylvania. 38% in. Rand Paul’s lead is a landslide 59-36%, while liberal Jack Conway is 51-37%
(6:50 PM update, MacAoidh) Paul’s people had already scheduled their guy to speak at 8:00 Eastern time. They counted on this thing being in the bag. Everybody seemed to think that was a race except for the Paul camp.
One wonders, given Paul’s rather tight relationship with outgoing GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, how unpopular Bunning really is with the state’s Republicans. In any event, they’ve got a fresh face to deal with and Grayson said earlier today that if Paul was the nominee he’d get behind him. Whether Mitch McConnell throws a lot of weight behind Paul in the general election is a question. Whether Paul is even interested in McConnell doing so is another.
In Pennsylvania, reports are that the lousy weather across the state has contributed to very low turnout in the Democrat primary for the Senate race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak. Word is that helps Sestak. One might imagine it also would really help Tim Burns in PA-12.
(6:45 PM update, JMC) FOX declares Rand Paul the winner. HUGE victory for the insurgents. 29% of Democratic vote in and more liberal Jack Conway ahead 49-38%
(6:30 PM update, JMC) Nine counties partially reporting and one small county 100% in. Paul lead jumps up to 61-35%, while the more liberal Conway surges more to 55-32%.Pennsylvania closes in :30, and Arkansas in 2:00.
(6:22 PM update, MacAoidh) If Tim Burns is going to win in PA-12 tonight, he might have to win substantially. If he loses by 178 votes or less, we’ll have a mess on our hands…
An estimated 178 people were permitted to vote twice today at a Uniontown polling place, according to a Republican attorney investigating the issue.
GOP attorney Heather Heidelbaugh said that through human error, voters at the North Union 4 VFW Hall were given one paper ballot for the primary election and two for the special congressional election between Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz.
She said first-time Judge of Elections Amber Lilley distributed the extra ballots in what was apparently an innocent error. The completed ballots were then fed into the OptiScan voting machine, which counted them.
After the problem was discovered, Fayette County Election Bureau Director Larry Blosser had the machine removed from service and the paper ballots segregated.
Ms. Heidelbaugh said the process hadn’t generated any legal filings. “Everybody’s working things out here so far,” she said.
“You’ve got votes on that machine, after this, that are good votes,” said Ms. Heidelbaugh. “If the election is within 178 [votes], we’ve got problems.”
(6:20 PM update, JMC) Some of Louisville and Lexington in. Louisville is 52% for Paul and 58% for Conway. Lexington is 62% Paul and 53% Conway. Keep in mind, though, that Louisville/Lexington represent 30% of Kentucky’s votes.
(6:15 PM update, JMC) And now the Ky SOS is showing 9 counties partially reporting. Paul lead up to 56-38%, while the more liberal Conway surges to 52-35%. We’re looking for Louisville to help the more liberal Conway. Pennsylvania closes in :45, and Arkansas in 2:15.
(6:10 PM update, JMC) Polls close in Western Kentucky (the state straddles two timezones). Ky Sec of State not reporting anything new, but POLITICO shows 6% in and a 55-39% Paul lead and a 45-42% Mongiardo lead (Mong is the more “moderate” Democrat who nearly won this seat in 2004). Some of Lexington (home of U of K) is in now. Paul and Conway have big leads there. We’re looking for Louisville to help the more liberal Conway. Pennsylvania closes in :50, and Arkansas in 2:20.
(6:05 PM update, MacAoidh) In Pennsylvania, it looks like things are looking bleak for Arlen Specter in a close race. From AP:
PHILADELPHIA — As Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) stepped out of his maroon sedan here in the West Oak Lane section, he nimbly avoided the puddles. Then, as if on cue, a nearby church chimed “Amazing Grace” as he shook hands outside the Simon Recreation Center.
Unfortunately for Specter, the rain continues to soak Philly and the three polling stations he visited have mostly been empty. However, the senior senator seems to be doing well with the voters who have turned out in these neighborhoods: older African-Americans. “I voted for him when he was a Democrat before,” one grandmother tells me. “He was a great district attorney in the Sixties.”
“He’s been a vocal supporter of African Americans and union members,” adds James White, 68, a retired public employee. “I support him because of that. His [GOP ties] don’t really bother me.” Other African-American retirees walking in the polling station said the same. “Sestak’s nice, but I don’t know him,” was the, albeit anecdotal, consensus.
The normally talkative Specter has become relatively mum in recent hours, ducking many reporters’ questions at his polling station visits. I asked him twice whether the White House has called him to offer good luck wishes and got no response. All he told me was this: “We need turnout. If we get that, we’ll do well. I feel fine. I’d like a little less rain, but I’ll play with the cards we’re dealt.”
Meanwhile, a senior Sestak aide tells NRO that the race is still “way too close to call.” It’s still early, he says, and with little turnout, outcomes are “hard to predict.” Both campaigns, he believes, are focusing on the turnout in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Fox News is reporting Rand Paul will be speaking to his supporters in about an hour. Given the trends, it looks like that will be a victory speech.
(5:55 PM update, JMC) More data from those six counties in the mountains (out of 120) in. Paul and Conway surge. Paul 59-36% and 49-39% Conway (Mong is the more “moderate” Democrat who nearly won this seat in 2004). Western Kentucky closes any minute now, Pennsylvania in 1 hour, and Arkansas in 2:30.
(5:40 PM update, JMC) Five counties in the mountains (out of 120) partially reported. 50-43% Rand Paul and 46-42% Mongiardo (Mong is the more “moderate” Democrat who nearly won this seat in 2004). Western Kentucky closes in 20 mins, Pennsylvania in 1:20, and Arkansas in 2:50
(5:35 PM update, JMC) Realclearpolitics final poll averages: Paul 49-33 and Mongiardo 39-35.
(5:30 PM update, JMC) 1% of Kentucky in – polls closed in the eastern half of the state. Two counties (out of 120) partially reported. 53-40% Rand Paul and 47-42% Mongiardo (Mong is the more “moderate” Democrat who nearly won this seat in 2004). Western Kentucky closes in half hour, Pennsylvania in 90 minutes, and Arkansas in 3 hours.