The most super of the duper
What to watch for in the Tuesday political primaries
The most super of the duper
Dick Polman, Inquirer National Political Columnist
The Washington press corps has decreed today to be "Super Duper Tuesday," although I strongly question whether the average American has greeted the dawn with the stirring words, "Hey, honey, guess what - it's Super Super Tuesday!" Most people don't bother to vote in party primaries, assuming they even know that the primaries are being staged. Nevertheless, attention must be paid. Twelve states have primaries today. Briefly, here's where I'm focusing most of my attention:
In Nevada, we've all assumed that Harry Reid will be roadkill in November. But today the Senate Democratic leader may well catch a break - because Nevada's Republicans seem poised to nominate, as his autumn opponent, a fringe right-wing candidate with no money and zero appeal to centrist swing voters.
The likely winner today in the GOP Senate primary is Sharron Angle, a former state legislator who sets tea-party hearts aflutter. Beyond the conservative base, however, she has big problems. Whenever she articulates her positions on issues, the propeller atop her head begins to twirl.
She wants to kill the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy (great moves, in the wake of the BP oil spill). She wants to privatize Social Security (great move, in the wake of the ever-fluctuating stock market). She wants to eliminate the federal Department of Education (a GOP stance that died in 1996). She wants to privatize Medicare (a stance that no doubt will go over great with Nevada's growing senior population). She wants the United States to withdraw from the United Nations, and she wants to bring nuclear waste material to Nevada (whereas every successful Nevada politician has fought for years to keep such material out of Nevada). She has roughly $200,000 in the bank for an autumn election (because few people want to give her money), whereas Harry Reid is sitting on $9 million.
All told, a Nevada Republican strategist reportedly admitted yesterday, "the more she talks, the less people will think she is senatorial material." If Angle wins today, the odds are strong that swing-voting Nevadans will look more favorably on Reid as the lesser of two evils.
Meanwhile, today in Arkansas, Democrat Blanche Lincoln may well become the third incumbent senator to be ousted in advance of the autumn elections. The last time that happened, Blondie was a hot band. We're talking 1980 here.
Lincoln may well succumb to a challenge on her left flank from Bill Halter, the state lieutenant governor who has been heavily bankrolled by labor union groups. Labor has long been angered by Lincoln's center-right voting record, and apparently believes (against considerable evidence to the contrary) that a pro-labor liberal Democratic senatorial candidate can win in Arkansas this November. But less than five percent of Arkansas' workers are unionized. You do the math.
And lastly, we have South Carolina. I dearly hope that no candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary gains 50 percent of the vote today, because that would guarantee a runoff on June 22 between the top two finishers. The race in America's political cesspool is far too entertaining to end now.
Please, let there be two more weeks. There are still lots of Republican strategists and lobbyists who haven't come forward to claim they slept with Nikki Haley, the conservative, married gubernatorial front-runner. There's still time for more of her fellow Republicans to slime her Sikh upbringing in racist terms. (State senator Jake Knotts insists that when he called her a "raghead" last week, he did so only "in jest.")
And there's still time for everybody to strap themselves to lie-detector machines. So far, only rival gubernatorial candidate Andre Bauer has done this. He announced early yesterday that his polygraph proves that he had no role in spreading rumors of people sleeping with Nikki Haley. But wait, we now have some new polygraph results. A local Fox News affiliate persuaded GOP lobbyist Larry Marchant to be tested about his claim that he had a one-night stand with Nikki, and it turns out that the results were..."inconclusive."
Fox's polygraph expert said yesterday that as many as three exams are typically required to ascertain whether somebody is lying. To that I say, great. Let's keep this primary season going for another two weeks, and hook everybody up. Andre Bauer even said yesterday that he would "absolutely" take a polygraph to disprove the persistent rumors that he's gay. Let's hope that Nikki Haley draws less than 50 percent of the vote today in her four-way primary. South Carolinians, it's up to you.
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 those rare occasions 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.