Primaries: Specter gets boxed out

Last night turned out to be every bit as interesting as we thought it would be.

Key take-aways:

1)  PA-12 (full breakdown here) was never a gimme.  Take a Democratic candidate who literally runs against the current Administration’s key policies, throw in a 60,000 voter registration advantage, and top it off with an insanely-important/hyped/expensive Democratic Senate primary on the same day and you get… yeah, you get a special election loss for Republican Tim Burns.

Keep in mind, however, that Burns lost by only 12,000 votes — even though 37,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans.

I’d still consider this to be a toss-up going into November.  We’ll have to wait and see if Critz was just pandering to the anti-Obama crowd during the campaign or if he’ll actually vote that way these next few months.

All of this aside, the NRCC probably shouldn’t have dropped the kind of cash that it did on this race, but hey, that’s some Wednesday-afternoon campaign managing from yours truly.

2)  The Sestak momentum everyone was talking about was real, and it manifested itself by way of an 8-point victory for the Admiral over Arlen Specter.

It makes perfect sense, really.  Democrats couldn’t trust Specter, and when presented with a legitimate candidate (Sestak) who could be competitive with Toomey and still be reliably liberal — they went for him.

3)  Rand Paul ran one heck of a campaign.  It’s a tea party victory, yes — and he said as much during his victory speech — but his overall message resonated with much more of the electorate than just the tea party members.  And let’s be frank, Grayson was effectively painted as the establishment-backed candidate, and Mitch McConnell’s clout is simply no match for the distrust in Washington that currently exists amongst voters–and not just Republican primary voters, as evidenced numerous other races of late.

4)  I was wrong about Blanche Lincoln.  Well, not so much wrong about her as I was about Halter and JC Morrison.  I thought Lincoln would get to the magic 50% line because I banked on Morrison only garnering around 2-4 percent of the vote, but JC’s 13% and nearly 40,000 votes really kept her from winning the nomination outright.  Morrison, if you’ll remember, actually ran on a pretty far-right platform — and clearly there were a good number of southern Democrats who liked the looks of his candidacy.

5)  Oregon GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley, of NBA renown, won the bid to take on former-Gov. Kitzhaber this fall.  At 6’11″, Dudley’s going to be one difficult guy to frame on screen during debates.  Height aside, this will be an interesting race to watch, as you’ll have an absolute political novice up against a former 2-term Gov. — yet again testing the voters’ acceptance of political retreads.

– Adam Dahlgren, Political Editor

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