Anyone that follows politics even in the slightest has likely read and heard much in the last few weeks regarding the hotly contested Republican primary in Delaware between establishment candidate Mike Castle and Tea Party upstart Christine O’Donnell. In a blue state that sent VP Biden to the Senate, most people figured that moderate Castle was the surest bet to win the seat against Democrat Chris Coons. Primary voters felt differently and gave O’Donnell a convincing win last night.
In the hours since there has been much gnashing of teeth as political pundits grouse that Delaware Republicans pretty much gave away the Senate seat last night, a point that’s hard to argue when PPP finds O’Donnell down a hefty 16-point margin to Coons right out the gate, and also notes that Castle would have been up by 10. This was the primary argument extrapolated to a national stage as conservatives, moderates and Republicans wrangled with the virtues of voting for an electable candidate rather than for the one whose views more closely resemble her own.
In a sense, it really doesn’t matter what anyone outside of Delaware thinks. For whatever reason, Republican voters in Delaware didn’t like what Castle had to say (his vote for cap-and-trade probably didn’t win him any fans) and chose O’Donnell instead. For better or worse, she’s the GOP nominee now, and just as conservatives are told to close ranks behind the moderates when they’re in the driver’s seat, so too should those who thought Castle would have been better recognize the results of a primary.
Many don’t. Karl Rove has now twice issued blistering condemnations of O’Donnell’s issues, Charles Krauthammer was upset with her win, Mike Castle himself has yet to endorse her, and it was whispered last night that the NRSC wouldn’t support her. The picture has gotten a bit clearer today as NRSC head John Cornyn pledged his full support, monetary and otherwise, of O’Donnell, and RNC chair Michael Steele said everyone should just lay off all the internecine warfare.
It’s precisely the right tone to take. A Republican takeover of the Senate, as Ed Morrissey notes, was always a doubtful endeavor, and though it looks like O’Donnell has an uphill climb and may likely lose, she’s the candidate that Delaware Republicans want to represent them. Grumbling Republicans should focus their ire on the highly personal attacks against O’Donnell both during the campaign and now helpfully amplified by the media. You should see Memeorandum right now – the entire first half of the page is devoted to stories about O’Donnell’s stand on masturbation, evolution, dinosaur bones, condoms and talking to Nazis. In short, nothing that has anything to do with the act of governing or writing legislation.
I would have been OK with a Castle win, but the Republican backlash over O’Donnell’s victory is idiotic and self-defeating. Liberal pundits lap it up as evidence of a divided party that is unwelcoming of any differing points of view. Give me a break – this is just one primary battle, and it’s not like liberals weren’t stridently calling for the heads of Democrats who voted against Obamacare. O’Donnell’s win is indicative only of Delaware Republicans wanting someone else to represent them, and talking heads on both sides of the aisle need to quit the navel-gazing and recognize that while this may let Democrats hang onto the Delaware seat, it doesn’t change the fact that their agenda and policies are deeply unpopular and are leading to a likely thumping come November. That’s the real story, not the supposed unelectability of a blue-state GOP nominee; November will be the final verdict on that.