Rand Paul Triumphs, Specter Booted, Lincoln in Run-Off

The primary upsets in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Kentucky will be
billed as signs of voter discontent with the Obama Administration and
Congressional incumbents, as well as a dark forecast for the future of
the Democratic Party. The Tea Party also scored a major hit with Rand
Paul--whatever that means.

For all the excitement about Tea Party power, Rand Paul's Kentucky
campaign is a wild card race carried by a movement filled with mixed
and contradictory messages--some rather progressive (Paul's
anti-imperialism) and some downright racist (We're all Arizonans!)

Look for a lot of uncomfortable mainstream Republicans, who stood by
Mitch McConnell and Dick Cheney, and now have to show up at the unity
rally on Saturday to make nice with the Tea Partiers they consider
total wackos.

If Rand Paul won on sheer anti-establishment fever, Arlen Specter,
the 80-year-old political switch-hitter, lost partly because he was too
downright flexible--and too pragmatic-- for either party's base.

But most interestingly, in Arkansas, an insurgent campaign by the
comparatively progressive Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter against
middle-of-the-road Senator Blanche Lincoln seems to have prompted
Lincoln to move left. Chamber of Commerce darling Lincoln recently
introduced the toughest bank reform legislation Congress has seen since
the Great Market Meltdown. By forcing banks to spin off their
derivatives desks, the amendment to Chris Dodd's bank reform bill would
leave the derivative-trading operations ineligible for a government

The Lincoln amendment undermines her opponent's efforts to tie her
to Wall Street and the big banks. But while they are trying to sink the
amendment, the banks are still betting on Lincoln. Securities and
investment firms came in third among her top contributors, with
$371,250 in contributions last cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Whatever the reason for it, the amendment is a progressive breakthrough.

"In one fell swoop, Lincoln's measure will effectively protect
taxpayers, downsize the behemoth banks, and end the federal guarantees
behind big bank gambling. It's the strongest structural reform measure
in the bill," writes Mary Bottari on BanksterUSA.

Bankster is urging people across the country to call their Senators' offices and urge them to vote for the Lincoln amendment.

That's important because, win, lose or go to a June 8 runoff after
today's primary, Lincoln may find that her crusade is cut short by a
very well organized opposition including lobbyists for Goldman Sachs
and other derivatives daredevils and their favorite members of
Congress, along with Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and a host of other
Wall Street friends in the Obama Administration.

Lincoln herself might not even expect it to pass.

But what the bank battle shows is that there can be some progressive
pressure on conservative Democrats--even someone like Lincoln, who tied
up health care reform and voted for the TARP before her conversion to
populist crusader against Wall Street.

That's one way progressives can win in this primary season--no matter what the outcome.

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