Dem primaries

Dem primaries

Waiting for Sestak

The Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania remains wide open, but Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has gained virtually no traction with eight weeks to go, according to a new poll.

The latest Franklin and Marshall poll shows Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) well under 50 percent, at 32 percent. But Sestak has barely climbed out of the single digits, taking just 12 percent of the vote.

Franklin and Marshall tends to have high numbers of undecideds, but Sestak should still be registering more than 12 percent if he wants to make it a competitive primary. At this point, he doesn't appear to have made a compelling case as an alternative to Specter. The good news, is, he has a little less than two months. The bad news is, he has a little less than two months.

Sestak hasn't made much headway in any poll that regularly tests the race. He has run a (notoriously) lean campaign, and even though he had $5 million in the bank, he doesn't seem to have used much of it so far.

There's an opening with Specter in the primary, but as we've seen May 18 Senate primaries take off in other states (Arkansas and Kentucky), the Pennsylvania race has thus far been a pretty one-sided contest.

It will be interesting to see what Sestak has planned.


Hildebrand primary threat doesn't sway Herseth Sandlin

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's (D-S.D.) office says she will vote 'no' on the health care bill, even as former top Obama aide Steve Hildebrand threatens her with a primary challenge.

Her office office said she will not bow to pressure.

"There's been pretty constant and strong pressure here for a while. We feel it every day," deputy chief of staff Russ Levsen told the Rapid City Journal. "That's part of being in the majority and being one of 39 House Democrats to vote against the health care bill last November."

Hildebrand has threatened to primary Herseth Sandlin if her vote sinks the bill or comes close to it. It looks like the vote will be close either way, so the ball's in his court now.

Hildebrand did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Arkansas AFL-CIO says Lincoln 'turned her back' on workers

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) has "turned her back" on working voters in Arkansas, the head of the state AFL-CIO said Wednesday.

Responding to a new ad from the senator in which she condemns labor groups, the AFL-CIO fired back at the senator for having taken money from groups representing workers, only to turn around and attack those groups.

“Lincoln has ignored the interests of working people in Arkansas too many times.  It's easy for her to try to paint opponents as outsiders, but working class voters in Arkansas can see as well as anybody that she has turned her back on us," Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes said in a statement.

{mosads}Labor groups have backed state Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a Democratic primary challenge to Lincoln after she'd backed off support for elements of healthcare reform, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or "card check"), and other top priorities by labor.

The senator, who's expected to face a tough GOP challenger this fall as well, lashed out at unions supporting Halter in a new ad, saying, "I'm not working for them; I work for you."

The AFL-CIO is quick to not that while it's true that Arkansans might not typically be huge union supporters, the group felt they couldn't let Lincoln's remarks go unchallenged.

“Only someone who has become a career politician in Washington DC could spend ten years asking for our support, take hundreds of thousands of dollars from blue collar workers, then turn around and attack us as ‘outsiders’ because we wouldn’t help her this time around," Hughes responded Wednesday. "That’s not the values people in Arkansas believe in.”

The AFL-CIO hopes to paint Lincoln as a consummate "flip-flopping" Washington politician, pointing to their own occasional donations and endorsements to Lincoln despite an inconsistent career record on issues the union has deemed important.


Romanoff takes caucuses

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) fell to former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in Tuesday night's precinct caucuses, raising new hope for Romanoff's campaign in their primary.

National Democrats, who are supporting Bennet, worked hard to lower expectations in advance of the caucuses, which basically function like straw poll of activists. In the end, Romanoff's 51-42 victory was substantial but not overwhelming.

Another establishment favorite could be headed for a loss on the GOP side, with former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton falling narrowly to Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.

This post has been updated. AP is reporting that Buck has beat Norton, but official results from the state GOP show him leading her 37.86 percent to 37.74 percent with 6 percent of precincts still to come.


Hildebrand threatens Herseth Sandlin with primary

So does Steve Hildebrand really think he is going to challenge Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) in a primary?

At first glance, it seems like a political move by an Obama deputy national campaign manager to get Herseth Sandlin on-board with the healthcare bill.

In threatening the bid, Hildebrand even said he will base his decision on her vote.

"I want to see how she votes on health care," Hildebrand told CNN. "If the vote is very, very close and we lose it or come close to losing it, I will take a seriously (sic) look at challenging her."

Hildebrand, a South Dakota native, also tells CNN that he would only accept money from inside South Dakota, capping donations at $100. He said he hasn't spoken with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) or Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) about the idea.


Lincoln lashes out at labor in new ad

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) lashed out at organized labor in a new ad for having backed her Democratic primary opponent.

Lincoln, in her latest ad, targeted unions for having run ads on behalf of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who's challenging Lincoln in a primary race from her left.

Lincoln specifically responded to an ad accusing her of not working for Arkansans.

"That ad is paid for by a bunch of Washington, D.C. unions," she says in her response. "And they're right -- I'm not working for them; I work for you."

Labor groups have pledged to support Halter in the primary race, the winner of which will likely face a tough GOP challenger this fall. Lincoln, for her part, has not enjoyed the warmest relationship with organized labor after she'd been skittish on moving forward with some elements of healthcare legislation, and had been cool toward supporting the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or "card check").

Check out Lincoln's spot below:


Dems lowering expectations for Bennet

National Democrats want you to know that, even if Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) loses in Colorado's precinct caucucses today, everything is going to be OK.

Bennet supporters are legitimately concerned that Andrew Romanoff might turn a strong performance today into some momentum on the campaign trail. They'd also like to point out that, even if he does win, such victories haven't meant much in the past.

The DSCC points out that Mike Miles (who?) defeated Ken Salazar in 2004 and that Tom Strickland lost at the cacuses as well. It is also sending around press clippings that set the expectations high for Romanoff.

We'll see tonight whether this is really the turning point some think it will be. But I'll say it again: whatever pressure might have been on either side tonight was mitigated, at least somewhat, by that PPP poll Monday showing a close race. It looks like we may have a real primary regardless of the caucus results.


Stupak faces primary challenge

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a holdout on the Democrats' health reform bill, will face a primary challenger in the fall.

Connie Saltonstall, a businesswoman and former county commissioner, will face off against the anti-abortion rights Democrat, according to media outlets.

Stupak's decision to withhold his vote on the healthcare bill has rankled pro-abortion rights Democrats and the party's leadership, who wants to pass the bill quickly. The congressman, who was elected in 1992, has threatened to whip at least 12 votes against the bill unless the abortion language is somehow changed.

The last time Stupak faced a primary challenger was 2000, when he beat his opponent 89 to 11, according to CNN

Saltonstall cited the congressman's abortion stance for launching her candidacy.

Stupak's spokesperson told CNN "The congressman is not surprised by a primary opponent considering the recent controversy surrounding the Stupak Amendment and health care. He plans to prepare for an aggressive, spirited primary race."


Dems keep digging in Murtha's district

Republicans aren't exactly trumpeting their chances in the race for John Murtha's seat, but the Democratic race is slowly devolving into something that could open the door.

Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer is still crying foul about the process that nominated former Murtha district director Mark Critz for the special election on Monday, and now the state Democratic Party is fighting back.

State Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney had some choice words for Hafer, who suggested the process might have been fixed for Critz.

“Barbara’s free to disparage whatever she chooses to, and on any given day she’s disparaging something different,” Rooney told “One day it’s Mark Critz, another day it’s the process, another day it’s John Murtha. I think there are people in the 12th district wondering if Barbara will ever get around to talking about what she believes in."

Rooney continued: "It’s time she get over it, because it’s been decided, it’s done, and it’s time to move on. I would encourage all Democrats to get behind this candidate, because the Republican Party is going to make this special election a national election."

Hafer is still running in the Democratic primary for the general election, which will be held the same day as the special election on May 18.