Voters’ Anti-Establishment Mood Bites Both Parties

May 12, 2010 05:43

Perhaps the clearest example of veteran lawmakers’ woes is the tough challenge being thrown at Sen. John McCain of Arizona — the GOP’s presidential nominee two years ago.

AP via

The anti-establishment political tide that ousted a three-term GOP senator in Utah has spread well beyond the tea party.

It toppled a longtime Democratic congressman from West Virginia on Tuesday, and several White House-favored lawmakers elsewhere are confronting liberal voters who don’t want party elites telling them what to do.

In Pennsylvania, many Democratic voters seem unmoved by President Barack Obama‘s pleas to embrace former Republican Arlen Specter in next Tuesday’s Senate primary.

Specter’s nomination seemed virtually assured last year when the entire Democratic establishment, including Gov. Ed Rendell, backed him in exchange for his switch from the GOP. But Rep. Joe Sestak, who bills himself as the contest’s true Democrat, has erased Specter’s big lead in the polls.

The May 18 vote is expected to be close, and Obama has cut a last-minute TV ad for Specter in hopes of avoiding an embarrassing upset.

Should Specter lose, he would be the third prominent politician in a month to fall in intraparty contests dominated by restless voters who show little respect for well-established figures and party leaders.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was expected to cruise into the Senate, with barely a thought to his party’s primary. But conservative Marco Rubio and tea party activists drove Crist out of the GOP, and he is running as an independent.

In Utah, 17-year Senate veteran Bob Bennett fell victim Saturday to the once-unthinkable claim that he’s not conservative enough for the Republican Party. His sins, according to tea party activists who taunted him at a GOP convention, include voting for the 2008 bank bailout pushed by Republican President George W. Bush.


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