Saturday, August 30, 2014
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Harry Reid's gift, and other results

A scan of the headlines on a big primary night

Harry Reid's gift, and other results

 

Some headlines out of last night's primaries:

In Nevada, the Republican voters inexplicably tossed a lifeline to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid by nominating, as his autumn opponent, a tea-party darling with a tinfoil hat who makes Rand Paul sound like a flaming lefty. Well, this is what happens when the extremists seize control of a party. Many of Sharron Angle's fringe positions were listed here yesterday, although I neglected to include her support for Oath Keepers - a right-wing group that urges police officers and soldiers to resist "totalitarian" federal power, and warns of the possibility of Washington-decreed "concentration camps." Reid seemed eminently beatable this year...until this gift opponent fell onto his dinner plate, ripe for carving.

In Arkansas, the Democratic voters resisted the temptation to move leftward. Defying the conventional wisdom, they actually re-nominated their embattled incumbent senator, Blanche Lincoln. It was a smart move, because the guy who had been widely expected to defeat her - Lt. Gov. Bill Halter - was probably too liberal for the Arkansas electorate in November. Lincoln at least has a theoretical shot at winning again in November, if only because her center-right voting record is more in tune with the state. The big loser in this primary was organized labor, which wasted $10 million trying to knock off Lincoln and replace her with Halter. Labor's strategy never made much sense to me. Why pump so much outside money into a right-to-work state where so few workers and voters are unionized? Why risk making it appear that Lincoln was the "outsider" candidate battling against the "special interests?" And then Bill Clinton delivered the coup de grace by stumping for Lincoln. He's a whole lot more popular in Arkansas than organized labor. And I bet he shows up elsewhere this autumn, to aid other imperiled Democrats in states and districts were his stock is still high.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley nearly cleared 50 percent of the vote in the GOP gubernatorial primary; instead, she faces a June 22 runoff with the distant second-place finisher, congressman Gresham Barrett. Barrett has played no role in the sex-and-raghead smears directed at Haley in recent months, so perhaps that characteristically South Carolinian behavior will be dialed down over the final 13 days. For now, it's worth noting that Haley defeated three men last night, and this autumn she'll have an excellent chance to become the nation's first female Indian-American governor. That alone would surely be a kudo for South Carolina.

Elsewhere in that state, however, another vote tally is well worth noting. A six-term Republican congressman named Bob Inglis drew only 27 percent of the vote in his five-person primary race. But since his chief rival finished first with only 40 percent, Inglis will face his Republican constituents again in the June 22 runoff round. Inglis is widely expected to lose, and thus became another incumbent casualty. But what's most striking about Inglis is the reason why he's in such deep trouble.

He's a career conservative who is suddenly deemed to be not conservative enough.

I rode with this guy on his campaign bus back in 1998, and he was quite clear about his convictions. He wanted to oust Bill Clinton from office because of his sex with Monica Lewinsky. He opposed the whole idea of bringing home the federal bacon; he had voted against using federal money to fix a Charleston bridge, and he had even refused to upgrade the airport in his own district with the help of federal money. He told me that, as a point of principle, congressmen should not "go on a looting mission in Washington."

But in recent years, Inglis apparently committed a few no-nos. He voted for the bank bailout. He pointed out that human beings actually do contribute to global warming. Worse yet, at an '09 town hall meeting, Inglis said that Fox host Glenn Beck was "trading on fear," and Inglis even told his audience, "What I would suggest is, turn that television off when he comes on."

It speaks volumes about the ever-rightward tilt of the GOP that Bob Inglis could be trounced in a party primary, while somebody like Sharron Angle could win big.

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The sole proprietor of this blog is on the road for the month of June. Virtually all June posts will be briefer than the norm, except on the rare weekdays when posts won't show up at all. Apologies in advance for this disturbance in the force. The standard verbosity will return on Monday, June 28.
 

Dick Polman Inquirer National Political Columnist
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Dick Polman Inquirer National Political Columnist
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