Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Hawaii election day thread

Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.

Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.

In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.

The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.

Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.

CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.

UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.

UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.

With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.

UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.

MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.

Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Hawaii election day thread

Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.

Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.

In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.

The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.

Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.

CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.

UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.

UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.

With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.

UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.

MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.

Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."

Progressive Senate Candidates Make Closing Arguments

They’re calling it Super Senate Tuesday. Next week on May 18, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas will all hold competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate. All three races offer the progressive movement the chance to defeat lackluster conserva-Dems. (Also Tuesday, the special election to replace the late Rep. Jack Murtha in PA-12 and the non-competitive OR-SEN primary.)

In both Kentucky and Pennsylvania, progressive candidates down roughly 20 points just a month or two ago are now in dead heats against inferior opponents. In Kentucky, state Attorney General Jack Conway is squaring off against Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. Mongiardo is un-electable in a general, conservative (he agrees with Mitch McConnell on health care!), and possibly corrupt. Conway is none of those things, and yet a new Daily Kos poll has Mongiardo winning 39-36. SurveyUSA has it virtually tied at Mongiardo 38, Conway 37.

Fortunately, Conway has the momentum. In the past week, he’s picked up endorsements from the Lexington Herald Leader, state auditor Crit Luallen, and former Senator Wendell Ford, who is spending the final four days of the primary campaign barnstorming the state with Conway. Here’s a new video from Conway’s campaign:

Another close race is PA-SEN between retired admiral Rep. Joe Sestak and former Repub Arlen Specter. This race is also tied; Kos calls it 45-43 for Sestak, Muhlenberg tracking says 43-45 for Specter, and Quinnipiac says 44-42 for Specter. Here’s the closing argument from Sestak, a new ad comparing his voting record to Specter’s:

I’ve been very impressed with the last two ads I’ve seen from Sestak’s campaign – this and the one highlighting Specter’s party switch and close ties to Dubya and Palin. The latest news on that ad is that Specter cited a local newscast as proof that Sestak was splicing his words and taking them out of context – and yet himself spliced the newscast and took it out of context to make that point.

I used to support Arlen Specter, but then he tried to smear Admiral Sestak’s military record, making up false charges against a decorated veteran for political gain. There’s little worse in my book. Kentucky’s Daniel Mongiardo isn’t much better than Rand Paul, and we’ll be better off with even a liberal Arlen Specter, so please, support Jack Conway and Joe Sestak today. They’re both close, but need a final push – especially in Sestak’s case, where a tie favors Specter’s organizational advantage.

Also happening, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is still well behind incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas. I still think she’ll get 50% of the vote, but he is catching up, so maybe show him some love too and we can knock out several conservative obstructionists at once.

Live Blog With Senate Candidate Jack Conway

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Lt. Col. Andrew Horne joined MyDD for a liveblog session on this thread Friday afternoon. Conway is a candidate for U.S. Senate in the Democratic Primary. As you can see from his April interview with MyDD, he is without a doubt the most ethical and progressive candidate in the race, and a new Rasmussen poll show he's also the most electable, running 5 and 9 points behind the Repubs while Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo loses by 14 and 16. Col. Horne, a retired Marine who served in the Persian Gulf and the Iraq War, was endorsed by Wes Clark and Paul Hackett in a Congressional primary in 2006 and briefly ran against Repub Senator Mitch McConnell in 2008. He has served on the board of VoteVets and once delivered the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Below the fold, two of Conway's latest ads, and in the comments, the Q&A.

There's more...

Opposition to Civil Rights and Support for Big Banks in KY-SEN

The Senate primaries in Kentucky grow stranger and stranger by the day. In the Repub primary, Dr. Rand “Ron’s Son” Paul has said that he opposes all civil rights legislation, and in the Democratic primary, you have to wonder if Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo would have been only the second Democrat to oppose Wall Street reform in yesterday’s cloture vote.

In an editorial refusing to endorse either candidate in the Repub primary, the Louisville Courier Journal wrote of Paul and secretary of state Trey Grayson (emphasis my own):

[Grayson] is positioning himself to be a loyal foot soldier in Mr. McConnell's destructive, dishonest effort to undermine virtually every initiative from the Obama administration. The trouble with Dr. Paul is that despite his independent thinking, much of what he stands for is repulsive to people in the mainstream. For instance, he holds an unacceptable view of civil rights, saying that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group. He quickly emphasizes that he personally would not agree with any form of discrimination, but he just doesn't think it should be legislated…

Mr. Grayson seems to have been blindsided by [Paul’s insurgent success]. He seems physically and mentally dazed, and uncomfortable in his own skin as he responds by rolling out extreme right-wing positions. His rapid movement to the far right leaves many wondering what he really stands for.

One of the two Democratic candidates isn’t much better. Yesterday, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson was the only Democrat to oppose Wall Street reform, but if Mongiardo were a sitting Senator he might have been the second. At a recent forum, Mongiardo said that “too-big-to-fail” isn’t a problem: “These banks and these insurance companies didn't fail because they got too big; they failed because they deregulated. Regulations had been in place for decades and generations.” His Democratic opponent, however, state Attorney General Jack Conway, has shown a sharper understanding of the problem: “Some of those companies got too big and it's because they had these silly derivatives that they hid from the public.” To be fair, the scandal-plagued Mongiardo has called on fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell to stop blocking regulatory reform, but he was awful silent while McConnell was lying up a storm about the bill’s substance, and has virtually echoed the Repub leader’s language on health care reform.

Thankfully, polls show that this race can be a bright spot for Democrats in an otherwise dark year – but it won’t be worth it if we nominate Mongiardo. He might be a little better than the two Repubs, but who cares when the guy’s already to the right of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln? If he’s this conservative now, how much worse will he get outside of a Democratic primary?

Conway has picked up a lot of momentum lately, including support from the Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association, Steelworkers Local 14581, Teamsters Local Union No. 651, Daily Kos, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Northern Kentucky Enquirer. He’s closed the gap in the polls against Mongiardo, and can win the primary on May 18 – but only if the Netroots put him over the top. Please, help a progressive brother out and donate to the Conway campaign.

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