Liberal activists have successfully driven out moderate Democrats over the healthcare bill.
Representatives Jason Altmire and Tim Holden both lost in primaries to opponents who joined together with activist groups to pummel the veteran lawmakers over the opposition to the new health care law and climate change legislation — positions they had used to their advantage in the past to show their independence from President Obama and the Democratic Party.
"A lot of us thought of his record as his strength," said Hugh M. Reiley, the chairman of the Schuylkill County Democratic Party, referring to Mr. Holden. "He was not falling prey to all that party bickering. He was able to reach across the aisle."
"Last night, the Democratic Party became more liberal," he added.
Altmire and Holden had used their moderate beliefs to their advantage in general elections. But party activists will no longer tolerate dissent on domestic issues, according to the Times. The primary losses mirror the left’s influence on the 2006 Connecticut Senate primary in which anti-war activists propelled liberal financier Ned Lamont to victory over former vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman. Lieberman went on to defeat Lamont in the general election as an independent candidate.