Tuesday's votes in seven states brought the curtain down on a "bitter and bruising" primary election season. It was a great day for the Tea Party insurgency and its promoters, and a mixed one for the Republican and Democratic parties, conventional wisdom, and MTV reality stars. (Watch an AP report about the results.) With most of the ballots counted, here's a look at five key races:
1. Christine O'Donnell (and Sarah Palin) trounce the GOP establishment
Tea Party insurgent O'Donnell's huge upset of Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican primary is "a huge political story," says Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. "How huge?" With the "moderate" Castle a shoo-in against Democrat Chris Coons and O'Donnell "probably unelectable," her victory "comes pretty close to wiping out the possibility of the Republicans taking control of the Senate." It's a big win for Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint, and national Tea Party groups, but the lesson for the GOP is that "when you ride a tiger, you go wherever the tiger wants to go — even off a cliff." Oh, "blah, blah, blah, blah," says Mark Tapscott in The Washington Examiner. O'Donnell doesn't make Delaware "a lock for the Democrats," as the "talking heads in Washington and New York" should know after Scott Brown and the other big Tea Party upsets this year. The lesson is that voters are intensely angry, and "that anger is far from limited to conservatives."
2. The GOP (and Palin) claim an apparent victory over the Tea Party in N.H.
With returns still coming in, former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte maintains a small lead over Tea Party–backed lawyer Ovide Lamontagne. Notably, even the combined endorsements of Palin and "a long list of Washington-based Republicans" wasn't enough to push Ayotte to a decisive victory over the insurgent Lamontagne, says John Distao in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Both are true conservatives, says Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine, but the "conventional wisdom" is that Ayotte is a "solid favorite" to beat Democrat Paul Hodes, while "Lamontagne is a slight underdog." Unlike O'Donnell in Delaware, though, Lamontagne's a "'viable' candidate."
3. New York Tea Partier Carl Paladino "crushes" Rick Lazio
Self-funding businessman Paladino "trounced" establishment pick Lazio, and will now "pit his Tea Party insurgency" against Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, says Politico. Please "keep going, Tea Partiers," says Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft. Thanks to your hard work, "Cuomo is a lock." Well, either Republican would've been "creamed in November," says Patrick Edaburn in The Moderate Voice, but picking a "freak" like Paladino over the "relatively respected" Lazio is disgraceful and shows that the Empire State now has "the most screwed-up GOP in the country." Having a true conservative like Paladino on the ballot could actually "motivate Republican voters" in the fall, says John Tabin in The American Spectator. So this was a loss for the New York "establishment," but "not necessarily a blow to the GOP."
4. One reality TV star claims victory, another goes down in defeat
Bucking the night's trends, the party favorites prevailed in both primaries in the race to replace retiring Rep. David Obey (D-WI). Democrats chose state Sen. Julia Lassa and Republicans Sean Duffy, a former district attorney and alumnus of MTV reality shows "The Real World" (Boston, 1997) and "Road Rules" (1998). A second "Real World" participant, Kevin Powell (New York, 1992), lost his Democratic primary bid in Brooklyn, NY.
5. Charles Rangel brushes off challengers
The embattled Harlem congressman, facing his first serious challenge in 40 years, won a "clean majority" — despite facing 13 pending House ethics charges — in a crowded, five-candidate Democratic primary, and will almost certainly keep his seat in November. The voters should have ousted Rangel, but probably got "goo-goo eyed and nostalgic in the voting booth," says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. But this is why "Rangel is the ultimate cat with nine lives." He may have won his "grudge match" against state Rep. Adam Clayton Powell IV, says Joel Siegel at ABC News, but his "heavy baggage" will probably hurt the Democrats nationally.