Voters cast ballots for outsiders over insiders in primaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky on Tuesday.
The biggest upset was in Pennsylvania, where Senator Arlen Specter, 80, lost his seat to two-term Representative Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary. “It’s been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania,” Senator Specter, who has served five terms, told The New York Times.
“It’s no surprise that people wanted change,” Representative Sestak said. “When I went to Congress just a few years ago, after 31 years in the wonderful United States Navy, I found too many career politicians are a bit too concerned about keeping their jobs, rather than serving the public and rather than helping the people.” He will face former GOP Representative Pat Toomey in what's expected to be a hotly contested Senate race this fall.
Support from Tea Party activists allowed Rand Paul, the son of Texas Representative Ron Paul, to win the Republican primary for Senate in Kentucky over Secretary of State Trey Grayson. "I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," Rand Paul told reporters. "We have come to take our government back."
Paul will take on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in November. Conway won Kentucky's Democratic primary over Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo.
In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln was not able to get the majority of the vote on Tuesday, so she will have to face Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter in a June 8 run-off election. Halter was backed by progressives and unions. The winner of the Lincoln-Halter run-off will face Republican Representative John Boozman.
The results of Tuesday's primaries call into question the clout of Capitol Hill leaders, including President Barack Obama, among American voters. President Obama publicly supported Senators Specter and Lincoln.
“It cannot be overstated that people want something new, they don’t want the same old, same old politicians," Paul told The Times. "They think the system is broken and needs new blood.”
Democrats were able to cinch one victory yesterday. In Pennsylvania's special election to fill the late House Representative John Murtha's seat, Democrat Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns.