O’Donnell Nom Exposes Tea Party, GOP Establishment Divide
Republican primary voters in Delaware offered a stern rebuke to their national Party Tuesday electing Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell over the comparatively moderate, establishment endorsed candidate, Rep. Mike Castle (R). O’Donnell’s victory (53 – 47 percent) marks the end of a campaign that got really nasty in its closing weeks. The primary is over, but the unpleasantness of the campaign lingers.
The fallout began immediately as GOP officials and strategists openly lamented O’Donnell’s victory.Republican new media strategist Patrick Ruffini, for example, perfectly stated the general sentiment of establishment Republicans reacting to O’Donnell’s victory in a tweet:
@PatrickRuffini Congratulations Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
Then there’s Karl Rove whose disappointment was evident in an exchange with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Rove — a Fox News political “analyst” who, reportedly, has been working behind the scenes soliciting Tea Party groups to support Castle — told Hannity that O’Donnell’s victory diminished GOP chances of taking over control of the Senate this November.
“We were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate,” Rove said. “Now we’re looking at seven to eight, in my opinion. This is not a race we’re going to be able to win.”
(Hannity clip via TPM)
Then there is the NRSC’s muted support O’Donnell — whose candidacy faces a significant cash disadvantage to her Democratic opponent — giving the impression that the Tea Party should pay for the campaign. The GOP establishment seems sufficiently chafed from having to defend other fringe characters who’ve already defeated Party approved candidates — Sharon Angle (NV), Rand Paul (KY)…etc. — that they’re willing to write off Deleware in their effort to retake the Senate.
The reaction of Rove and others, taken together with the national Republican’s less than congratulatory response, has left a bad taste in the mouths of far-right web commentators. Red State‘s Erick Erickson, while stating he’d rather see O’Donnell win in November than any democrat, declared that he’s “pulling the plug in Delaware,” because of her supporters’ propagation of baseless innuendo pertaining to Castle’s sexual preference.
Conversely, TheRightScoop reacted to the NRSC’s announcement by calling on its readers to donate to the O’Donnell campaign. “Fine, if that’s the way they want it,” the author notes, “let’s send her money to prove we don’t need the establishment!”
Another prominent conservative blogger actually called on Fox News to suspend and investigate Rove, and for the head of the NRSC, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to resign. Following Rove’s exchange with Hannity, Dan Reihl blogged, “… it seems impossible to trust Rove as an objective analyst.”
In terms of the conservative movement, we should not simply ignore him, but proactively work to undermine Rove in whatever ways we can, given his obvious willingness to undermine us.
I would encourage all grassroots and conservative activists and bloggers to, not just ignore them, but proactively work to run-down whatever web based initiatives they choose to employ until this matter is resolved. John Cornyn should be held accountable and removed from his NRSC position…
As the tension between the GOP establishment and the Republican Party’s right wing base develops into a pitched battle, I find it difficult not to derive a certain amount of personal satisfaction. It’s not because I, like many others, prognosticated the widening rift when Sarah Palin quit or when Arlen Specter left the GOP. That was more than a year ago. Then and since, GOP officials have pandered to the self-proclaimed conservative purists — the same demographic responsible for the entirety of Palin’s present relevance, such as it is, and led Specter to unsuccessfully duck the fate Castle realized Tuesday night.
Now that the circular firing squad on the right is taking shape, it’s become clear that the GOP merely had the Tea Party tiger by the tail; and, with just two months to go before the 2010 midterms — after some nibbling throughout the primary season — that tiger took its first unambiguous bite.
That Rove’s hand was in the way when the jaws shut was, for me, the most satisfying result. However, as enjoyable as it is to watch Rove twist, it wouldn’t be prudent to dwell on O’Donnell’s victory no matter how fortuitous it is for the Democrats. After all, as the crack team of political analysts at The Daily Show hilariously observed while debating the numerous ways for the Democrats to “f#@% it up.”