Special elections for United States Representative are often seen as harbingers of political trends, but they often are the result of other factors like local politics or some fluke. The two special elections within the last week are examples.
In Hawaii, a Republican, Charles Djou, won for the first time in decades. The result does not necessarily indicate a trend, however. Instead of uniting behind one Democratic candidate in the non-partisan special election, two Democrats sought election, which caused the votes of Democratics to be split between them and allowed a Republican to be elected by winning a plurality.
Similarly, the Pennsylvania special election I reported on in an earlier post does not suggest either a trend or the lack of a trend. The simultaneous Democratic primary increased the Democratic turnout in the special election, as there were contested statewide races for U.S. Senate and Governor. Meanwhile, there was a simultaneous Republican primary for the nomination for the general election for the same House seat that pitted the previous nominee against the candidate selected by the party conferees for the special election, meaning that the Republican candidate for the special election, Tim Burns, was not only running against a Democrat for the special election, but also successfully fending off a serious challenge from a Republican for the nomination for the general election. Some conservatives were upset at the GOP leadership for choosing Burns over the previous nominee. Also, the Democrat ran as a conservative, expressing his opposition to some of U.S. President Barak Obama’s policies, such as his fellow Democratic President’s spending spree and federalization of health insurance. There will be a closely-watched rematch between Burns and the newly elected Democrat Representative.
Rand Paul is Not a Conservative
Rand Paul won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate for Kentucky. Although he campaigned as a conservative, like his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), he is not a conservative, but a libertarian/isolationist. Paul’s support for conservative ideas like limiting the size of government is sincere, as conservatives and libertarians hold some ideas in common, but he also holds a number of views anathema to conservatives.
Obama Follows Another Bush War on Terrorism Policy
The Obama Administration successfully argued in federal court to maintain President George W. Bush’s War on Terrorism policy of holding suspected terrorists prisoner at Bagram, Afghanistan. The court ruled that the detainees are not entitled to the writ of habeas corpus – a legal process that forces a government to justify the detainment in a hearing. The only distinction between Bagram and Guantanamo Bay apparently is that the former is recognized by the court as in the battlefield and the latter is not.