Two Democratic Senators Face Tough Primary Challenges

05.18.10 | FL News Team

Two Senate Democrats are confronting tough challenges. Primary elections are scheduled in some states today and there are bright spotlights on Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Veteran Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is trying to hold off Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak. Specter is running as a Democrat for the first time after a long career as a Republican. Sestak, a retired Navy admiral, has been making plenty of noise about Specter's party switch and the race is expected to be tight. In Arkansas, Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln faces a tough primary challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. Lincoln, a moderate-to-conservative Democrat, has received harsh criticism from the party's left flank. Lincoln and Specter have both received support from the Obama White House.

 In Kentucky, the credibility of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell could take a hit if Trey Grayson loses a primary race to Rand Paul. McConnell, a powerful force in Kentucky Republican politics, handpicked Grayson to replace retiring GOP Senator Jim Bunning. Grayson, Kentucky's secretary of state, is thought to be in trouble in a campaign against eye surgeon Paul, the son of veteran Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Rand Paul has received considerable support from conservative Tea Party activists.

 A special House election in Pennsylvania is being watched closely in the race to replace the late Democratic Congressman John Murtha. Murtha, who died in February, served Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District for more than three decades. Longtime Murtha aide Mark Critz is trying to hold off a tough challenge from Republican businessman Tim Burns. The special election was called to fill out the remainder of Murtha's term, which expires at the end of this year. Therefore, regardless of who wins, both candidates will turn around and do it again in November.

 Later this week, voters in Hawaii will choose a replacement for veteran Democratic Congressman Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to run for governor. A Republican is expected to win the special election in the heavily Democratic district as two Democrats are splitting the vote in a bitter contest. National Democrats hope to quickly regain the seat in November's mid-term congressional elections.