Elections Point To What Candidates Haven't Done

The 2010 election season is moving along. This weekend, voters in Hawaii went to the polls in a special Congressional election. In Connecticut, Democrats and Republicans gathered for separate nominating conventions leading up to a Senate race. For analysis, host Liane Hansen talks with NPR's Mara Liasson.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

The 2010 election season is moving along. This weekend, voters in Hawaii went to the polls in a special congressional election. And in Connecticut, Democrats and Republicans gathered for separate nominating conventions leading up to a Senate race.

For analysis, we're joined by NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Begin with Hawaii. There was a special election yesterday to fill an open congressional seat. This district leans Democratic but a Republican won. What happened?

LIASSON: What happened was there were two Democrats in the race and one Republican and the Democrats split the Democratic vote. Together, they got more votes than the Republican but it's never a good idea when you dilute your vote. The national Democratic leaders in Washington tried to convince one of those Democrats to step down - neither of them would, so the Republican won. This was the district where President Obama grew up, so it has some symbolic significance.

Democrats are hopeful that in November, when there's the general election, there will only be one Democrat on the ticket and they have a chance of taking that district back.

HANSEN: Another state closer to at least our home, Connecticut, tough week for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He's now the state's Democratic Senate nominee but he's been getting a lot of criticism because - for misstating his service in Vietnam. How is that race shaping up?

LIASSON: Well, that race has gotten a lot closer since it was revealed that he, on many occasions, said that he served in Vietnam as opposed to during the Vietnam era. Now, many times he did describe his service accurately but he also left the impression that he actually went to Vietnam when he didn't. Now, he is going to be the nominee. The Democratic Party is rallying behind him there. He's going to face Linda McMahon, who was nominated this weekend. She's a Republican, she's an outsider, she's never run for office before and she happens to be the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

She has a lot of money, she's willing to spend it on the campaign. We're going to hear a lot of wrestling metaphors before this campaign is over. She's talking about, you know, this will be a real smack down. And it's interesting, she won against a long-time veteran of Congress, former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, who served in Vietnam.

But what's interesting is the thing that people said over and over again at the Republican convention that was her best qualification was that she had never served in politics before, never run anything. She was an outsider. This seems to be the best thing you can be in this election year.

HANSEN: Well, briefly, block that metaphor, Mara. What's coming up next?

LIASSON: June 8th is the next big primary day. We're going to have a primary in California to see which Republican will fight against Barbara Boxer, who's the Democratic incumbent there, and is facing a tough race no matter who wins. There's also going to be a primary in Nevada to see who faces Senate majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid, who's trailing the polls against both of his potential Republican opponents.

HANSEN: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you.

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