It is one of the most important days of the primaries for the elections in November, in which U.S. citizens will choose governors for 36 states, a new House of Representatives and 37 out of 100 senators. On Tuesday voters highlighted the two extremes of the U.S. political spectrum. On the one hand, they celebrated victory for President Barack Obama; a White House-backed contender succeeded in ensuring he would be the Democrats’ candidate for the Senate for the state of Colorado. On the other hand, they also favored the tea party group, choosing a third candidate who is supported by this ultraconservative faction of the Republican Party, and who will stand for election to the Senate in November.
In a year in which President Obama’s popularity has drastically fallen in the polls (according to the last survey by Gallup, yesterday 45 percent approved his management and 48 percent did not), analysts have predicted that the Democrats, who are gambling for reelection with the support of the White House, will lose the primaries, if not everything. This was not the case for Michael Bennet of Colorado, who managed to become a candidate and beat his rival, former Speaker of the State House Andrew Romanoff, by a difference of 8 percentage points.
Obama provided intense campaign support for Bennet, making this dispute almost personal. It was he who opened the door to the Senate for Bennet because his Senate seat opened up when Obama chose Ken Salazar to be Secretary of the Interior. Bill Clinton had asked for votes for Romanoff, the runner-up, who had supported Hillary in the 2008 presidential primaries.
However, in the elections in November, Bennet will not be up against the candidate endorsed by Republican leaders, but the one who was the favorite of the ultraconservative tea party movement. Jane Norton, who was Lieutenant Governor for the state between 2003 and 2007, lost to Ken Buck, unknown in Washington, who had previously worked as county prosecutor. He had fallen slightly in the polls in July, due to some comments he made in which he said he was a good candidate because he wore cowboy boots and not high heels, like his opponent.
Buck is the third candidate of the tea party whose name will appear on the ballot in November, following previous victories in the Senate primaries of Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky. While celebrating his victory on Tuesday, Buck gave the same opposition speech he used against the government and ruling parties, in which he defined the tea party: “We are going to reach out our hand for those independent voters and Democrats who are also fed up with Washington, D.C."
Another of the candidates of this conservative movement, former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel, lost a contentious vote on Tuesday by a difference of just 1 percent and 2,500 votes. She had received endorsements from ex-Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, effectively one of the leaders of the tea party. That Monday, Palin was campaigning for her candidate in Georgia.
The tea party is a group of voters that has no official representation in the Republican Party leadership, nor is it one single or highly organized political movement. For example, two of its heavyweights, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, supported Handel’s opponent, and the final victor, Nathan Deal.
In Connecticut, a state considered to be a Democrat stronghold, another unknown for the ruling political classes secured the nomination of the Republican Party for the Senate. Linda McMahon, businesswoman and former executive of the World Wrestling Entertainment group, secured her candidacy and will face the current Attorney General for the State of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal.