Disgruntled U.S. voters take down veteran senator

* Specter falls to Sestak in Pennsylvania primary

* “Tea Party” shows strength with Kentucky victory

* Voter anger fuels threat to incumbents

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON, May 19 (BestGrowthStock) – Disenchanted U.S. voters in
both parties turned against the establishment on Tuesday,
choosing a conservative “Tea Party” newcomer over a handpicked
Republican favorite and dumping veteran Democratic Senator
Arlen Specter ahead of November’s midterm elections.

On the biggest day of U.S. voting so far, two-term Senator
Blanche Lincoln also struggled and was headed to a June 8
run-off election against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter after
failing to win the necessary majority of the Democratic Senate
primary vote in Arkansas.

“This is what democracy looks like — a win for the people
over the establishment, over the status quo, even over
Washington D.C.,” an exuberant U.S. Representative Joe Sestak
told supporters in Pennsylvania after beating the 80-year-old

Specter, a 30-year Senate veteran and former chairman of
the Senate Judiciary Committee, was the latest incumbent to go
down in a wave of anti-establishment anger fueled by distrust
of Washington and worries neither party is doing enough to
rescue the economy and restrain government spending.

In Kentucky, conservative Rand Paul easily won the
Republican nomination over Secretary of State Trey Grayson —
the handpicked choice of Senate Republican leader Mitch
McConnell — for an open U.S. Senate seat in a race seen as an
early test of the loosely organized Tea Party movement.

Paul, a doctor and son of libertarian Republican
Representative Ron Paul, rode a wave of voter anger with the
help of Tea Party activists who oppose runaway federal spending
and favor more limited government.

“We have come to take our government back,” Paul told
supporters in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “This Tea Party movement
is a message to Washington that we are unhappy and we want
things done differently.”

Paul will face state Attorney General Jack Conway, who won
the Democratic primary, in November in the race for retiring
Senator Jim Bunning’s seat.


The anti-Washington mood threatens to sweep away many
well-known incumbents and put Democratic control of Congress at
risk in November, when all 435 House of Representatives seats,
36 of 100 Senate seats and 37 of 50 state governorships are up
for election. (ID:nN1749686)

A dramatic upheaval could hinder President Barack Obama’s
legislative agenda, threaten each party’s remaining moderates
and increase the polarization in Congress.

But Democrats got good news in a special House election in
Pennsylvania to replace Democrat John Murtha, who died in
February. Democrat Mark Critz, a longtime Murtha aide, beat
Republican Tim Burns in a blue-collar Democratic district won
by Republican John McCain in 2008.

It was the seventh consecutive special House election won
by the Democrats since 2008.

“This was the only race in the country today where a
Democrat faced off against a Republican, and the results are
clear,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, head of the
Democratic House campaign committee.

In the Senate primaries, the anti-Washington wave swept
away Specter, who switched from Republican to Democrat last
year after calculating he could not win a Republican primary.
But a 20-point lead over Sestak turned into a dead heat as
Sestak questioned Specter’s party credentials.

Sestak, a retired Navy admiral and the highest ranking
former military officer ever elected to Congress, will face
Republican Pat Toomey in November’s Pennsylvania Senate race.

With about 92 percent of the precincts counted in Arkansas,
Lincoln led Halter by 44 percent to 42 percent. A third
candidate, D.C. Morrison, won enough votes to prevent either
Lincoln or Halter from crossing the 50 percent threshold.

Halter has been backed by labor unions unhappy with
Lincoln’s failure to support a bill making it easier to
organize workplaces and support of a Wall Street bailout.

“Halter gave voters a clear choice between someone who
fights for the working families of Arkansas or a DC insider
like Lincoln who is in the pocket of Wall Street and big
business,” said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president.=

During the debate on an overhaul of financial regulations,
Lincoln introduced a tough bill to force investment banks to
dump their derivatives businesses in what critics called an
overture to the left.


(Additional reporting by Joanne Allen and Jon Hurdle,
Editing by Philip Barbara)

Disgruntled U.S. voters take down veteran senator