Follow election news and results live, here, as returns come in for the Senate primaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and the 12th district special House election in Pennsylvania. Updates from Marc Ambinder, @JoshuaGreen, and Chris Good.
CG (11:28): It's a tie--sort of--in Arkansas. Neither candidate will get 50% of the vote, the AP calls, with 25 of 75 counties reporting. Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln leads at this moment, 42.89% to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's 42.84%. This means...a run-off. On June 8, the candidates will do it again.
The margin, but not necessarily the run-off, is a surprise. Lincoln was polling nine points ahead of Halter. A labor source says: "We were confident of a run-off. Didn't think it would be this close." Labor urged Halter to run in the first place and spent millions to help him. Unions won't say how much they're prepared to spend between now and June 8.
CG (11:08): It's called: Democratic AG Jack Conway edges Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo in Kentucky, by ~5,000 votes with 114 of 120 counties reporting. His Senate race against Rand Paul will draw enormous national attention, given the "Paul" name appeal and the Tea Party involvement. This race will be looked at as closely as Florida's Senate race as a test of Tea Party strength, not to mention the temperature of the GOP base. (Can the GOP base write large get excited about Paul?)
CG (11:03): Joe Sestak declares his victory as "a win for the people over the establishment" and "over Washington, DC." He rails against "too many career politicians are too concerned keeping their jobs than helping the people." Sounds like Sestak wants to run as a populist.
CG (10:51): The GOP's House campaign chief, Rep. Pete Sessions, spins the "disappointing" result in PA-12 thusly: "[Democrats in November] will steer clear of publicly campaigning with President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, distance themselves from the Democratic agenda, and attempt to co-opt Republican positions on the issues." As has been widely noted, Democrat Critz opposes cap-and-trade.
CG (10:41): In statements on the PA Senate race, labor leads off by thanking Specter, then congratulates Sestak.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: "
I have known and worked with him [Specter] for all my years in the labor movement and it is an honor and a privilege to call him a friend." SEIU's Pennsylvania executive council exec. director says the Senate experienced a "great loss" tonight.
MA (10:36): PA 12 simplified: GOP tried to nationalize the race. Health care, Obama, etc. Democrats localized it (and the Dem candidate ran against Obama). And the DCCC put 200 people on the ground there in the last week. Meaning: Dems can be competitive in races if they run the right candidates the right way. And Republicans aren't gonna cruise to victory in the fall.
CG (10:33): CNN calls Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District race for Democrat Mark Critz.
CG (10:31): Already seeking to capitalize on Rand Paul's victory, Tea Party Express sends out a fundraising e-mail, pitching supporters on a "moneybomb" for GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle in Nevada.
CG (10:29): Arlen Specter gives his concession speech, as he loses the Democratic nomination to the Senate seat he has held for the last 30 years. The senator will exit the upper chamber after a long career during which he survived both a brain tumor and Hodgkin's disease. After thanking his staff, and President Obama and VP Joe Biden for their support, Specter said:
It's been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania. And it's been a great privilege to be in the United States Senate, and I'll be working very very hard for the people of the commonwealth in the coming months. Thank you all.
MA (10:17): Think the White House didn't help Specter enough? Well, let it be known that Democrats offered up Vice President Biden to campaign for Specter on Friday, but Specter's campaign said that they'd rather the VP do radio interviews instead. Bear in the mind that Biden did this for Specter even as his son was recuperating from a stroke.
CG (10:15): Networks call it for Sestak in the PA Senate race. His lead, right now, sits at 53.6% to 46.4%. Specter's 30-year Senate career has most likely come to an end.
CG (10:09): Early reaction to Rand Paul's victory from Tea Party Patriots national co-chairman Mark Meckler: "This is not an anti-incumbent backlash, but the beginning of a Constitutional Renaissance that will sweep the nation. If politicians stand for the founding principles they will find support among the people. If they do not, they will find themselves swept into the dustbin of history." Meckler says Paul's win is second in importance to Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan's May 11 loss in West Virginia to a more conservative Democratic primary candidate, as it proves Tea Partyism isn't limited to the GOP.
CG (9:58): Pennsylvania Dept. of State election results website goes down. A plot by Gov. Ed Rendell to steal the election for Specter? Joe Sestak, who had taken the lead before such technological malfeasance, reemerges with a 53%-47% lead. The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman says Sestak has it in the bag.
JG (9:41): Updating Rand Paul theme song: "Spirit of Radio" by Rush. Ashamed inner freshman geek didn't recognize it. Video here: http://bit.ly/WQozb
MA (9:37): This tweet from Jennifer Duffy, the dean of Senate race analysis: "#kysen: who says Dem voters aren't engaged. Turnout has already surpassed '07 Dem Gov primary."
CG (9:23): Arlen Specter holds the edge in PA so far, and there's no geographical bias in the returns. A PA Dept. of State spokeswoman described a "smattering" of returns from across all parts of the state, with fewer coming from the Southwest corner.
CG (9:16): It was Election Night with Sarah Palin briefly, tonight, on Sean Hannity. The former governor appeared to talk about the elections from Alaska, with mountains and a lake behind her (they appeared to be real, and not green-screened in). On the PA District 12 special election, Palin said voters are going to reject Obama and all he has "promised to do to this country." We're a center-right nation, Palin said, and: "Remember, though, that even President Obama had to run as a quasi conservative when he was candidate Obama"--the president "had to kind of spew" lines about smaller government and transparency, Palin said--"Even candidate Obama represented, at the time, tried to because he recognized we were a center-right country." True, Obama did run as a moderate, but he sure wasn't portrayed that way by the McCain/Palin campaign.
CG (8:54): A veritable Tea Party manifesto from Rand Paul in his victory speech, received with mild, polite applause. He says "we've come to take our government back," and...
This movement, this Tea Party movement, is a message to Washington that we're unhappy and that we want things done differently...the Tea Party movement is huge. The mandate of our victory tonight is huge. What you have done and what we are doing can transform America. I think Amer's greatness hinges on us doing something to save the country. The Tea Party movement is about saving the country from a mountain of debt that is devouring our country [and I think?] will lead to chaos.
And moving directly into a Mitt Romney/No Apology moment:
We now have a president though who apologizes for America's greatness. We now have a president who went to Copenhagen and appeared with Rob Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and others--Evo Morales--to apologize for the ind revolution.
MA (8:41): Calls come in for Mitch McConnell to step down. (It won't happen, but...) Richard Viguerie, a major grassroots leader at one time, years ago, is on the record as saying this now. In theory, Jim DeMint, who aspires to the leadership, would replace McConnell. Again, not going to happen. But be braced for more calls like this.
JG (8:30): Given that Mongiardo was running continually in KY since 2003, Conway win should be considered further evidence of anti-incumbent sentiment
CG (8:27): All day, prognosticators have talked about low turnout in Philadelphia hurting Arlen Specter. Via PA2010, government watchdogs were estimating turnout wouldn't even hit the 12% level it reached during the primaries in 2006.
CG (8:20): Rand Paul gave the Tea Partiers a victory, but he was up so big that FreedomWorks, which helps coordinate Tea Party activity and is more in tune with electoral politics than some Tea Party groups, didn't stress about it too much in the final days. Most of their efforts went into the PA-12 special election. "KY looks good and we expect Paul to roll the establishment tomorrow," lead FreedomWorks organizer Brendan Steinhauser told me yesterday.
MA (8:06): To give you a sense of where priorities are, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent its day obsessed with Connecticut, not Kentucky, Arkansas or Pennsylvania.
CG (8:03): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's candidate lost tonight in Kentucky, and the Democratic National Committee wants you to know it. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, in a statement: Kentucky voters "hand[ed] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a stunning loss"...says Dems will have a better chance against Paul because he fails "to resonate beyond the far-right" of the electorate
CG (8:01): Who will Rand Paul face in November? Right now it's looking like state Attorney General Jack Conway, who leads the Democratic primary 56% to 31% with 6 of 120 counties completely reporting. Conway polls slightly better against Paul than does his opponent, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (Conway trails Paul by 4%, on average). In the primary, Paul was attacked for his allegedly "strange ideas"--expect more of that in the general election.
CG (7:52): Networks have called the KY race for Rand Paul, with 59% of the vote. That was fast. He was supposed to crush Greyson, being up by 16% in polls, but if his absolute latest tally (61% to 35%) holds up, he'll outperform even that projection by 11%.
MA (7:43): From the WSJ: "U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) moved Tuesday to gut a controversial provision in the financial-overhaul bill that would force banks to spin off their swap desks." How about that. Election Day's over, and Blanche Lincoln's derivative proposal is being weakened. Huh.
CG (7:32): Kentucky's GOP primary has drawn a lot of national interest, but how big a deal is it to actual Kentucky voters? The state Board of Elections (which, again, is technically run by Trey Grayson) is expecting a 30% turnout across the Democratic and Republican races--that's 2% lower than in 2006, when there were no Senate primaries, which should draw big turnout in theory.
CG (7:25): Don't forget Kentucky's other Senate race, the Democratic primary between Lt. Gov Daniel Mongiardo and AG Jack Conway. Sense in Kentucky, I'm told, is that a Rand Paul win gives Democrats a shot at this seat, meaning the Dem primary takes on added significance. (Both trail Paul by single digits.) Early returns show a 10,000+ vote Conway lead.
MA (7:20): To get a good sense of why Western Pennsylvania is different than Eastern PA, check out this map by Pat Ottenhoff. http://theelectoralmap.com/2010/05/18/the-battle-for-westsylvania/
MA (7:18): Where's John McCain gonna be tonight? On Fox, of course. 10pm ET.
MA (7:17): No spin: in this environment, the GOPer, Tim Burns, should win PA 12. If he doesn't, it doesn't mean the world is upside down. It just means that assumptions need revising.
MA (7:09): Looks like the TV nets are already writing Specter's epitaph before polls close. Meanwhile, labor sources are nervously watching turnout tick up ... but then again, it always ticks up.
CG (7:07): Results are trickling in from Kentucky...with 0 of 120 counties reporting completely. Rand Paul has opened up a 59%-to38% lead over Sec. of State Trey Grayson in the state's Republican Senate primary. It's a lead Paul is expected to hold throughout the night.
CG (6:59): As we wait for some meaningful results, here's a list of places to watch for results.
In Kentucky, polls close at 6 p.m. local time, and, since the state spans two time zones, that means some have already closed at 6 p.m. Eastern and others will close at 6 p.m. Central (7 p.m. Eastern). The state Board of Elections, which technically is presided over by Sec. of State Trey Grayson, has live-updated results here. (The board says it's faster than the AP.)
In Arkansas, polls close at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The Secretary of State's office will be posting results to its website here, and while rumor has it that Arkansas blog TalkBusiness.net will try to get results earlier. For live, Twitter-style coverage, check out 4029tv.com.