UPDATE 9/12: I guess it turns out that I shouldn’t trust DeMint on these matters. Christine O’Donnell is a lying, greedy, evil nutcase, and no conservative has any business supporting her. That’s all I’m going to write on this.
UPDATE 9/10: Christine O’Donnell has now been endorsed by Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, the NRA, and Rush Limbaugh (basically). As a conservative, I now find it very difficult to hold to the position I articulated a week ago in the space below, especially since I don’t live in Delaware and can’t follow all the twists and turns in this race. If those esteemed individuals have checked O’Donnell out and are satisfied, then I have to be as well. In particular, I trust DeMint and don’t think he would make this endorsement without spending a lot of time investigating. Since O’Donnell is now likely to beat Castle for the nomination, I sincerely wish her the best and hope that she doesn’t embarrass us.
One of the more shocking things about this election cycle is the number of establishment GOP figures who have been upset by outsider, Tea Party candidates in party primaries, especially in U.S. Senate races. Joe Miller’s win over Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was preceded by Ken Buck’s win over Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, Sharron Angle’s win over state GOP Chairman Sue Lowden in Nevada, Rand Paul’s win over Kentucky Sec. of State Trey Grayson, Mike Lee’s win over Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, and Marco Rubio’s pushing Florida Governor Charlie Crist out of the GOP primary (because Crist knew that he would lose).
If you had wanted to bet me a year ago that the Tea Party outsider candidates would have won more than one of those races, I’d have glady taken that bet and wondered if you were drunk.
There have now also been three races where an establishment GOP candidate has prevailed over the Tea Party candidate. In Indiana, Dan Coats had been a reliably conservative former senator, so he consolidated a lot of conservative support and prevented Marlin Stutzman from gaining enough momentum. In Arizona, Sen. McCain easily defeated J. D. Hayworth after video emerged of Hayworth in infomercials pushing a scam system to get government money. And in California, Chuck DeVore was largely seen as unelectable in a general election in such a blue state, and California Republicans thought that Carly Fiorina could win and was conservative enough.
In Delaware, we see two of those three situations above, and they indicate that Christine O’Donnell will not (and should not) upset Congressman Mike Castle for the GOP nomination.
Like Hayworth, O’Donnell has questionable baggage. John McCormack of the Weekly Standard interviewed her, and she comes off as a complete nut, with wild claims that Castle’s people have broken into her home and stalked her for years. She also admits to using campaign funds to pay her rent, which doesn’t look good, whether it’s legal or not. She also flat-out lied in a radio interview recently in saying that she won two of Delaware’s three counties in her 2008 race against Joe Biden.
As in California, there are serious doubts whether someone as conservative as O’Donnell could win in a relaibly blue state like Delaware. Allah and Ace expound on this at length today, and both are worth reading. (You can read Dan Riehl if you want a contrary opinion.)
As a movement conservative, I want each House and Senate seat to be represented by as conservative a member as it can elect. We live in a republic where citizens elect their representatives to reflect their own political views, and I have no problem with congressmen listening to the voters of their districts and voting in accordance with their wishes. I therefore don’t believe in measuring congressmen by how ideologically pure their voting records are, but rather by how conservative they are compared to the electorates they represent. We conservatives should be thrilled with Congressman Cao in New Orleans, as he is probably the single most valuable GOP member of Congress to the conservative cause, because his district went for Obama over McCain by a ridiculous 75% – 23% margin. On the other hand, Sen. Hatch in Utah, Sen. Graham in South Carolina, and Sen. Lugar of Indiana should all face primary challenges in the future, because none of them are conservative compared to the very red states they represent.
In a state as liberal as Delaware, I am forced to conclude that a RINO like Mike Castle is a good value for the conservative cause, and Christine O’Donnell appears to be a poor candidate. I believe that Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, the Family Research Council, and the Tea Party (which is planning to spend $600,000 on her campaign) are making a mistake in supporting O’Donnell. I hope Castle wins.
UPDATE: Jeffrey Lord in the American Spectator has a good piece defending O”Donnell and discussing the conservative movement’s tendency to beat ourselves up. I don’t agree with it, but it’s worth reading.
Here’s another item worth reading: Jim Geraghty goes into more detail about why O’Donnell is a disaster.