Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who bolted the Republican Party more than a year ago in a bid to salvage his Senate career as a Democrat, was defeated in a primary for his new party’s nomination on Tuesday, as Democratic primary voters turned against him and selected Rep. Joe Sestak for the nomination.
Mr. Specter, 80, lost his bid for a sixth term despite the backing of a wide swath of the Democratic political establishment – starting with President Obama in the White House and continuing with Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania.
“It’s been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Specter, looking drawn and downcast as he delivered a brief concession speech. “And I’ll be working hard for the people of Pennsylvania very hard for the coming months.”
In another election that sent waves of anxiety through political leaders here in Washington, Rand Paul, one of the early leaders of the Tea Party movement, won the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky on Tuesday night, delivering a powerful blow to the party’s establishment and offering the clearest evidence yet of the strength of the anti-government sentiment simmering at the grass-roots level.
Mr. Paul, the son of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, easily defeated Trey Grayson, the Secretary of State from Kentucky. Kentucky voters turned against Mr. Grayson even though he had the support of the state’s best-known political leader — Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader.
“I have a message,” Mr. Paul said, delivering a victory speech in Bowling Green. “A message from the Tea Party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back.”
The world is upside down. Conservative Republicans are losing to hyper-radical “Deliverance-era” conservatives. Specter lost to a true-blue Democrat.
I’m not gonna lie: I like Arlen Specter. He served Pennsylvania well for a long, long time. Met him at the Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh last August. He will be missed.
But the time has come for a true Democrat to hold that seat.
Rep. Joe Sestak, welcome to the Coffee Party, sir.