Handicapping Tuesday’s races

by Chris Matthews

We’ve got three big ones, all of which will gauge the level of anger out there, the amount of tough, edgy abuse people are ready to lay on the political establishment.


Ground zero is Pennsylvania where Joe Sestak is commanding a PT boat against Senator Arlen Specter’s fleet of destroyers. Those destroyers are manned by all who have an interest in Specter’s sixth re-election: his pal the governor, the vice president, the president, the mayor, the unions he’s been backing for decades, the center city lawyers, the judges, the people who want to be judges, and most important, the Democratic city committee that Specter used to work around and now is working with.


Is this democracy? Well it’s something democratic: it’s one guy named Sestak riding a wave of anti-incumbency, another guy named Specter riding on the shoulders of who those who benefit from his incumbency; it’s a battle of interests - those who want change against those who can more than live with what we’ve got. It’s a battle of attitudes: those who like upsetting the applecart; those who’ve got some apples in that cart.

Down in Arkansas we’ve got a hot race between an incumbent, centrist Democrat - Blanche Lincoln - and a very ambitious lieutenant governor Bill Halter. Lincoln was already dicey this year which is tough on most Democrats but especially southern Democrats. This Lincoln-Halter tussle is a contest that only makes sense if you know how angry the grassroots are. They’re angry because they aren’t getting what they want on health care and labor issues from Democrats like Lincoln. What they want is obedience to the progressive-labor agenda. Is that too much to ask for in a state like Arkansas that went overwhelmingly for McCain and which seems headed even further rightward? You decide.


In Kentucky, you’ve got to love it. Rand Paul, son of libertarian Ron Paul, is dominating in a race against the state’s Republican establishment of Mitch McConnell.  If Paul wins, it’s going to really stick it to McConnell and the regular Republicans. It’ll be a big win for Jim Bunning who had to skip a re-election effort because McConnell put the screws to him.

So there you have it, a real trifecta for those wanting to kick butt. If Sestak wins in Pennsylvania, it means Democrats are as angry at the establishment as Republicans are. If Paul in Kentucky and  Sestak win, it means both sides are going for change. If Halter in Arkansas and Paul “and Sestak win, bet on outright revolution!!!

Handicapping Tuesday's races