WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 — Three primaries with three different results have sharpened the battle lines for the upcoming 2012 election. Yes, Mitt Romney swept the primaries in Indiana, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Who ever thought otherwise? The real determiners of who will win in November are to be found in the Tea Party voters, the anti-gay marriage issue, and unions’ organizing strength.
Tea Party Topples Republican Icon, Senator Lugar
It has happened again: a small, but mighty band of determined Tea Party activists took advantage of the expected weak Republican turnout in Tuesday’s election in Indiana and bounced six term Senator Richard Lugar to the curb.
Who is this upstart who toppled the GOP’s longest serving senator Lugar by 20 points? State treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has run five times before and lost five times before, including three Congressional races, city council seat, and even to be secretary of the state primary.
Yet Mourdock is far right of the man he took down and that made all the difference to Republican voters who no longer believe in bipartisanship. Murdock shares those sentiments. He campaigned against Lugar, saying he is vehemently against the Dream Act, which Senator Lugar once supported, hitting Lugar for voting for the bank bailout under Bush and to confirm Obama’s nominees for judges and justices, and slamming Lugar’s willingness to work with both the President and Democrats on foreign policy.
Mourdock’s Democratic opponent will be Congressman Joe Donnelly, and if Mourdock beats the Democrat this November, he would be the latest in a string of Tea Partiers to head for the Senate, joining the likes of Utah’s Mike Lee, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and Kentucky’s Rand Paul.
That may be a big IF, if Indiana Democrats have their way. They think, with Lugar out of the way, they may have shot at taking back that seat and holding onto their Senate majority, especially given that Donnelly has the Right credentials, literally being anti-abortion, pro gun rights, and fiscally conservative, big pluses in a state that tracks Red.
For the Right Wing of the GOP, it means out with the old, literally and figuratively (Lugar is 80), and in with candidates, new and untethered to the Old Guard. If the Tea Party gets its way, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not just have his hands full, he may have a full-scale rebellion on his hands.
Unions Mobilized Wisconsin Voters
Meanwhile about 300 miles north of Indiana, Wisconsin Democrats picked their nominee to go toe to toe with Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election on June 5. He is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Gov. Walker in the last election by 5 percentage points.
The turnout was strong and is seen as a test of just how robust and organized the unions are. Just as the Tea Party flexed its muscles in Indiana, the Unions did some heavy lifting to make sure voters got to the polls.
Gov. Walker angered organized labor a year ago when he supported a law that curbed collective-bargaining rights for nearly all public employees and signed the law, saying it was essential for balancing Wisconsin’s budget. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of protestors flooding Madison, Wis. and culminated in the massive effort to gather over 500,000 signatures to recall the governor.
Should Walker defeat Barrett next month, you can expect to see the governor touring the country like a champion boxer around the ring. And right next to him will be Mitt Romney. If Barrett defeats Walker, expect to see the unions go on the offensive, pressing hard for Obama’s reelection and going after other states that have stripped away union rights.
There have only been two governors recalled in the history of our country, so this spring’s recall primary is an exceptional moment in Wisconsin. Officials said they expected turnout to top 30%, higher than any other gubernatorial primary since 1952.
North Carolina Double Downs Against Gay Marriage
As expected, North Carolinians voted in huge numbers on Tuesday for an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages, partnerships and civil unions. It is now the 30th state to include a prohibition on gay marriage in its state constitution.
The amendment states that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
Experts in legal law say the amendment’s language is vague, warning that besides being applied to same-sex unions, it could also apply to straight, unmarried couples who are living together, which are estimated to be around 150,000. The amendment could now invalidate a variety of laws from domestic-violence protection to hospital visiting rights as well as undermine child custody arrangements.
The proponents of the law, who saw around 61% vote for the amendment, insist they are not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.
Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the executive committee for the pro-amendment Vote for Marriage NC, said, “…the whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”
Yet North Carolina and the rest of the states that have passed similar amendments don’t represent the thinking of most Americans. According to the recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll 49% favor gay marriage with only 40% opposed, a radical change from 2004 when the same poll found 62% were opposed and only 30% in favor.
Obviously the times are a-changing, but voters haven’t caught up to that fact yet.
The line between the Left and the Right couldn’t be sharper. And there does not look like there is much room for bi-partisanship in the near future. So don’t look for compromise from either side, even after the election. Positions are hardening and you know what that can do to arteries: stop the blood flow.
Like it or not, the United States is headed for a massive stroke.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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