We’ve been fighting this out in the comments for a week or so, but seeing as though today is Primary Day in Delaware and the Mike Castle-Christine O’Donnell race will finally hit the finish line tonight it’s time to stitch together the argument for the conservative candidate.
O’Donnell has been hammered by the GOP establishment in the past month, just as her campaign has eclipsed Castle’s and for the first time she has taken a small lead in the polls. There has been enough dirt on the insurgent candidate spread of late to fill in the Grand Canyon, and if you’re looking for an argument why she’s unworthy of support it’s not hard to find one. O’Donnell isn’t cut from the Carly Fiorina-Linda McMahon cloth, whereby she made millions as a businesswoman and demonstrated a keen ability for management or entrepreneurship. O’Donnell isn’t even a Sharron Angle, who made a reputation as a hard-core principled state legislator even if that meant lots of local politicos disparaged her for being an extremist.
O’Donnell is more your regular-Joe. She doesn’t have an impressive bio at all; in a more Republican-friendly state than Delaware she’d probably have won a small race or two and moved up from county commissioner to state senator, but instead she’s been something of a serial candidate and a performer of odd jobs in marketing and public relations. She only recently finished her college degree and it appears she’s embellished her accomplishments – though she hasn’t claimed to have fought in Vietnam or held herself out as a law professor – on her campaign bio.
Allen West or Rob Portman, she’s not. I get that. In a larger state than Delaware, with a healthier Republican Party, she wouldn’t have a chance at an office this high.
But, as Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, among others, have noticed, O’Donnell is an actual conservative. She ran for Senate in Delaware as a real conservative in 2008, when it was supposedly poisonous to do so, and got clobbered in the process. And while she’s an unimpressive individual, unimpressive individuals in the Senate are the rule rather than the exception. The difference is that O’Donnell is an unimpressive individual who isn’t connected to the Ivy League-Wall Street ruling class like, for example, Kristin Gillibrand or Chris Dodd are.
Meanwhile, on the Establishment side of this divide we have Mike Castle, an entrenched incumbent politician who has been Delaware’s only congressman for nine terms (that’s 18 years) and was the state’s governor at one time. Castle is 70 years old and his voting record is absolutely noxious to conservatives. He styles himself a moderate, which would be an accurate description if your definition of a moderate politician would encompass Ron Wyden or Mary Landrieu. Castle is, in fact, the most left-wing Republican in the House of Representatives; he’s the very definition of a RINO.
How bad is Castle? Well, via Michelle Malkin let’s take a look at his record on energy for example:
* Voted YES on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
* Voted YES on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
* Voted YES on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
* Voted YES on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
* Voted YES on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
* Voted YES on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
* Voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)
* Voted YES on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore. (Jun 2006)
* Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on authorizing construction of new oil refineries. (Oct 2005)
* Voted NO on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
* Voted NO on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
* Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
* Voted YES on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
* Voted YES on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
* Establish greenhouse gas tradeable allowances. (Feb 2005)
* Rated 33% by CAF, indicating a mixed record on energy independence. (Dec 2006)
* Sign on to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. (Jan 2007)
* Supports immediate reductions in greenhouse gases. (Sep 1998)
That’s not a moderate voting record. That’s a left-wing nightmare of a voting record.
Castle also voted for the DISCLOSE Act, TARP, that $26 billion greasing of the teachers’ unions a couple weeks ago and Cap and Trade. He’s got a lifetime near-100 percent rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood. The National Rifle Association has given him an “F” rating since the early 1990’s. The Club For Growth gave Castle a 43 percent rating in 2009, which was a high-water mark in recent years (and a product of increased party discipline with a smaller GOP caucus) after ratings of 35 and 26 in 2007 and 2008. In fact, when Castle earned a 26 in 2008 from the Club For Growth, Arlen Specter earned a 44.
As Limbaugh, Dan Riehl and Erick Erickson have both noted, GOP majorities peppered by Mike Castles are majorities in name alone. You can’t make policy with a Mike Castle in your camp, because you will either have to continually bribe him with pork and thus sabotage your credibility with the American people or you will watch him fight against you. Such a majority merely makes the Republicans responsible for policy and presents the Obama administration with an even more inviting target for demonization (the distinctly uncharismatic and boring Mitch McConnell) than their past and present bogeymen Limbaugh, George W. Bush and now John Boehner. With a Castle teaming with Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and (probably) John McCain, the GOP will be credited with 51 votes when they’ve actually got 46. There is no difference between the two other than having the responsibility for setting the agenda.
On the other hand, if Angle manages to knock off Harry Reid (she leads by one point in the latest poll), the Republicans might be in the minority in a Chuck Schumer-led Senate. This is electoral gold in 2012, when the vast majority of the seats up for re-election will be Democrat seats. When the country gets a look at Schumer’s leadership they’ll recoil in a similar fashion to what we’ve seen with Reid, if not more so.
This assumes the Delaware race will make the difference between 50 and 51 seats, when it’s probably more likely to make the difference between 48 and 49, or 51 and 52. In other words, it’s by no means proven that the nomination decided tonight will hold the GOP Senate majority’s fate.