The winners were challengers—right and left—and those who organized on the ground. As our friend Jane Hamsher put it primary night, "Between Obama, netroots & tea parties clearing out Senate dead wood, average age has dropped about 2 decades in the last five hours." There are lessons here, but are they party lessons?

This being primary season, the only real party news came from Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, where candidates competed for  the seat of the late John Murtha.  The district voted for John McCain in 2008 even as the state voted for Obama.  Both party’s House leaders showed up: Boehner and Pelosi and both poured in cash; the GOP around $1m bucks. Democratic candidate Mark Critz made jobs and veterans his top two priorities and for pictures he stood with miners in coal fields. He won—and that’s got Democrats excited.

Pelosi doesn’t have voters as scared as Fox news would have you imagine. And frustrated working Pennsylvanians didn’t embrace tea party rage. Instead, in a tough-hit working district, organized labor turned out—with a strong message on fair trade and busting the banksters. And Critz won. Is the lesson that Dems can relax for the fall? Hardly. It may well be a lesson that 33,000 phone calls, 16,000 door-knocks and 75,000 worksite flyers at 63 work district work sites did.  That’s what the AFL-CIO say they did for Critz this season.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at and []. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on [].