Angry Electorate Roars at Washington, Hands Setbacks to Establishment Candidates
One by one, the incumbents or establishment-backed candidates in Tuesday's slate of high-stake contests fell or fell short.
If Tuesday's primaries were any indication, incumbents and establishment-backed candidates in November should be shaking in their boots.
In Kentucky, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who was backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Dick Cheney, was soundly defeated by Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. In Pennsylvania, five-term Sen. Arlen Specter, who ditched the Republican Party last year to save his career, ended up being sent into retirement anyway by Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary.
And in Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter after she failed to win the majority of votes in the Democratic primary.
Taken together, the results of Tuesday's races sent a clear message to Washington that the anti-incumbent wave that has gripped the nation over the past year isn't losing steam.
Tuesday's results come in a month when Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia fell in a primary to an opponent who highlighted ethic issues and Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was denied a spot on the ballot at a Utah Republican convention.
The latest primaries were closely watched for clues to how angry the electorate is about a weak economy, record-high deficits, two ongoing wars and a Washington environment that critics say favors rhetoric over results.
If recent elections highlight an undercurrent of voter anger, it remains to be seen how that anger will affect November's midterm elections, when Republicans will challenge Democrats for control of both chambers in Congress.
Yet one thing seems certain -- these are uncertain times for career politicians.
"I'm against the establishment. They're all crooked, unreliable and selfish for power," said Bill Osburn, 79, a military retiree from Murray, Ky., who helped tea party favorite Rand Paul win the Senate GOP nomination. "We need citizen representatives, not political politicians."