A Bad Night for Incumbents
If I were an incumbent congressman or senator facing a strong primary challenge between now and November I would be quaking in my boots this morning. Three incumbents lost to challengers last night in what could (stress could) be a sign of what's to come ... and in two of those cases, the results were not good for centrist politics.
- CT Senator Joe Lieberman lost narrowly to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont; he says he'll run as an independent in the fall ... and if he stays in the race, he's got a decent chance to win. His loss in the Democratic primary bodes ill for non-dogmatic politicians of all stripes - what bodes even more ill is some of the comments from Democratic party leaders. DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel said last night of Lieberman's loss "This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means. This is not about the war. It’s blind loyalty to Bush." What an utterly ridiculous thing to say when Lieberman's entire record is considered; not to mention that this line of argument will hardly suffice to make the Democrats seem a viable alternative on questions of security and national defense.
- GA Rep. Cynthia McKinney was defeated handsomely by former DeKalb County commissioner Hank Johnson in a primary runoff. This is the one race that has no real relevance for centrism, since it had more to do with the fact that McKinney's been out of control for years. Congress (and the Capitol police) will be safer without her.
- MI Rep. Joe Schwarz, a centrist Republican, lost (but made it a fairly close race in the end) to conservative insurgent Tim Walberg, who was backed by the Club for Growth and other outside groups (who pumped more than $1 million in the race). Schwarz said Walberg's win was "probably a victory for right to life, anti-abortion, anti-embryonic stem cell groups but it's a net loss for the Republican party because it just pushes the party farther to the right." Schwarz had received support from Senator John McCain, among others.
Last night saw victories for both the MoveOn crowd and the Club for Growth bunch. This will only embolden them (ugh) for future primaries, including the RI senate race among many others coming in September. Their victory is centrism's defeat, and a win for the status quo of polarizing partisanship. Not good.