Very briefly, my take on the victors and the vanquished ... aside from the, uh, actual winners and losers.
Winners: Organized labor and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, which identified Blanche Lincoln's vulnerabilities early on and stuck by its collective decision to hold Democrats accountable ... OFA -- Organizing for America, John Hagner, the DCCC's targeting director, and Marlon Marshal, the DCCC's field director, and the 200 other Democratic field operatives who quietly parachuted into Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district a week ago (more than 123,000 volunteer calls were made) ... Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who knew that his candidate, Mark Critz, had to run a race that fit his district ... Candidates who don't speak like politicians ... The DSCC's Eric Schultz, consultants Mandy Grunwald and Mo Elleithee and others who helped Dick Blumenthal survive his first day post scandal by planning and executing his local and national response ... Sen. John Cornyn, who got the candidate he wanted in Arkansas without a run-off... Rand Paul, who made nice with Mitch McConnell and co. in a phone call Tuesday, and who won't dial back on the quixotic parts of his issue matrix just because the NRSC doesn't like it...Team Sestak, which was supposedly kind of crazy and dysfunctional, but which ran a hell of a campaign (especially ad maven J.J. Balaban)...Pro-life, pro-gun Democrats....DC Morrison, who managed 14% of the Democratic primary vote in Arkansas, far surpassing expectations... and MoveOn/The Accountability Project, whose members recruited Bill Halter to run, who raised money for him, and who helped Sestak with the support the Dem establishment didn't give him.
Losers: Linda McMahon's campaign, which is now in a sparring match with the New York Times over whether the Times was tipped off to the Blumenthal story by the campaign, and then for trying to cover up their initial elation and credit-taking ... Health reform, which was unpopular enough in PA 12 that the winning Democrat ran against it. ... Predictability about November; if we know anything, it's that there's a lot more to learn about voter preferences before the midterms ... The White House political operation, which couldn't really claim credit for any victory (though they played a role behind the scenes in PA 12), which had a weird relationship with Arlen Specter's campaign in Pennsylvania, and which has yet to figure out how to operationalize the concept of an Obama Democrat. ... A weak derivatives amendment, which, given the fact that Lincoln now faces a tough run-off, is probably going to have to be restrengthened (after it was gutted today).... The NRCC, which, even though there were lots of exigencies, should have found a way to win PA 12.
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is a contributing editor at The Atlantic
. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One
, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week