Democrats’ See A ‘Significant Blow to the Republican Party’ in Tuesday’s Elections

By Susan Jones | May 19, 2010 | 6:19 AM EDT

Democrat Mark Critz takes the podium for his victory speech after winning the special election to fill out the term of the late Rep. John Murtha, in Johnstown, Pa., on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

( – In their post-primary spin, Democrats say they won “the most significant election contest” of the day – the only race to pit a Republican against a Democrat.
Democrat Mark Critz won the special election to finish the term of the late Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat who represented western Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district for 36 years – and won re-election by large margins -- until his death in February.

The Democrat Party’s main talking point: “If the GOP couldn't win here -- the only congressional seat that John Kerry won in '04 but Obama lost in '08 -- it's not going to have an easy time netting the 40 House seats in November it needs to retake the House.”

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine called Critz’s victory “a significant blow to the Republican Party.”
“Tonight’s result demonstrates clearly that Democrats can compete and win in conservative districts, including ones like Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, which was won by John McCain in 2008,” Kaine said in a statement.
As the Associated Press noted, Republican John McCain edged Democrat Barack Obama by 873 votes in 2008.  Four years earlier, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry won the district by 2 points over George W. Bush.
Said Kaine, “The Republican Party’s failure to take a seat that they themselves said was tailor made for them to win is a significant blow and shows that while conventional wisdom holds that this will be a tough year for Democrats, the final chapter of this year’s elections is far from written.”
Before the election, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele noted that Democrats have a two-to-one voter registration advantage in Murtha’s district. Nevertheless, he pointed to polls showing “we are running neck-and-neck because we have a great candidate and voters oppose the Obama-Pelosi agenda.”
As of early Wednesday morning, Steele had not posted his reaction to Tuesday’s elections on the Republican National Committee Web site.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul addresses supporters at his victory celebration in Bowling Green, Ky., Tuesday, May 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

DNC Chairman Kaine also found a bright side to the Kentucky race in which Republicans chose Tea Party-backed candidate Rand Paul as their U.S. Senate nominee.
Rand’s victory over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “handpicked candidate” (Secretary of State Trey Grayson) was a “stunning loss” and “a show of weakness” for  McConnell, Kaine said.
“Unfortunately for Republicans, ordinary Americans are unlikely to be receptive to extreme candidates like Rand Paul in the general election this November, Kaine continued.  “As a result, Democrats are now in a better position to win Kentucky’s open Senate seat,” he added.
On Wednesday morning, Paul urged Kaine to attend a tea party rally, if Kaine thinks tea partiers are so extreme:  “The tea party message is actually a very mainstream message,” Paul told Fox & Friends.
“One of the things we talk about is term limits,” he said, noting that polls show Democrats also favor term limits. Paul also mentioned a balanced budget amendment that many Independents and Democrats also favor. “I think these are very mainstream messages, but you know what I think is extreme is a $2-trillion dollar deficit.”
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Paul said he and the tea party “have come to take our party back.”