Christine O’Donnell Wins Delaware Senate Primary

by Mike on September 14, 2010

in Election 2010,Politics

The Republican establishment in Delaware was on the receiving end of a first-class political bitchslap earlier tonight.  Nine-term Congressman, former Governor and RINO extraordinaire Mike Castle lost the Senate Republican primary to the relatively unknown Christine O’Donnell.

The conservative side of the blogosphere had debated the race for days along largely predictable lines.  Those backing Castle argued that it would be better to take a sure Republican victory in November and have a Senator vote with us some of the time than to risk defeat at the hands of a Democrat who would vote against us most of the time.  Those backing O’Donnell, including all three members of this site, argued that a Senator as liberal as Castle would have rendered victory in November virtually meaningless.  Yes, we cut northeastern blue state Republicans some slack, but anyone  who supports a policy as economically disastrous as cap and tax and an investigation as absurd as this belongs in the Democrat Party and deserves to be defeated.

I respect conservatives of good faith on both sides of this issue.  That said, the significance of O’Donnell’s victory isn’t what it says about the debate between electability and ideology, as important as that debate is.  Tonight’s result was about rank and file Republican voters telling the Republican establishment that they are no longer simply going to shut up and do as they are told.

For years, conservative voters generally supported Republican politicians.  But when those conservatives dared express disapproval of their leaders’ policies (intellectual honesty one doesn’t often see on the left by the way) on spending and immigration, they were mocked as anti-intellectual or even racistCandidates were foisted upon them when the establishment should have remained neutral.  When those voters stayed home, the politicians lost their majority.  But they still didn’t learn their lesson.

This year, the tide turned.  It began when Senator Bennett in Utah was replaced by someone more conservative.  The momentum continued when Sharon Angle defeated the establishment favorites in Nevada.  When Joe Miller, with Sarah Palin’s backing, ousted the Senator from an Alaskan political dynasty, the Republican establishment saw something was up and set up their firewall in Delaware to save Castle from the Tea Party.  They thought that if they used the Alinsky tactic of isolating a target and getting in everyone’s faces (those of you with liberal friends on Facebook know exactly what I mean) to throw the kitchen sink and other trivialities at one of their own, the voters would back off.  But they didn’t.  Part of me thinks the establishment may have actually pushed O’Donnell over the finish line.

We can’t ignore the data.  Mike Castle would have had an easier time against Coons in November.  But does it matter given Castle’s voting record?  I say it doesn’t.   Some in the media are saying that Republicans hoping to send a message  just handed victory to the Democrats in November.  Maybe that’s true.  But if they had gone with Castle, they would have handed victory to the Democrats tonight.

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