Congratulations to tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell who won the Republican primary in Delaware on Tuesday, trumping Republican candidate Mike Castle whom many had deemed the “establishment” choice. Leading into the primary, supporters of both appeared on the airwaves to defend their candidates and, after her win, O'Donnell made the rounds of many Wednesday morning news shows.
The Washington Examiner's chief political correspondent Byron York was with O'Donnell for the announcement of her 53% to 47% win over Castle. York noted that she gave the GOP a thumpin', and wrote, “… conservatives feel enormously empowered by what they have accomplished, and they are important to the Republican party's fortunes this November and beyond.”
This year is shaping up to be part of the political cycle that comes around every 10, 12, or 15 years when the electorate, who may not have previously been involved in the political process for one reason or another, wake up and say, “Enough!” They are fed up with the status quo and want someone new.
The trigger this time was DC's Democratically-controlled Congress, with the urging of the Obama administration, using strong-arm tactics to jam through much unpopular legislation in record time. The masses, commonly known as the “tea party” but encompassing a number of groups with various political viewpoints including moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats, have risen up in protest.
The majority of Americans would like to see the unpopular government-mandated health care bill revoked. If that is at all possible, Republicans would need to retake the House and Senate followed by the Presidency in 2012. Those who spend time in politics, rightly or wrongly deemed “establishment,” understand that process and their expertise could be utilized at a time such as this when many feel the rampant Democratic agenda must be stopped.
Independent voters play a big role in any election and typically do not tend to vote for candidates they consider as being too far right or too far left. Tea party candidates have won in the primaries but the concern of many is whether they can win the general election.
A state like Delaware generally will not support a strong conservative candidate simply because of the makeup of the voters. Indeed, the Rothenberg Political Report moved Delaware from Lean Republican to Lean Democrat after O'Donnell's win. By electing tea party candidates in the primaries, conservatives may or may not be setting themselves up for defeat in November, i.e., Republicans win the House but lose the Senate.
The definition of “establishment” is a source of debate as Republican volunteers and elected representatives who have fought for conservative causes for years, battling in the trenches with few resources, now find themselves labeled “establishment” by newly-involved tea party activists. Is it better to wipe out everyone — volunteer and elected — and start with a completely clean slate against the established, experienced Democrats? November will be a pivotal election and many are hoping for the best as new blood is added to candidate ranks. However, in politics, “hope” is usually not the best platform going into election day.
With the primary process behind them, Republicans will get behind the candidates, as demonstrated by the initial $42,000 check presented to O’Donnell by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Unfortunately, there are questions that will continue to be asked and may hamper O'Donnell going into November. Forget that Charlie Rangel with all his ethics charges handily won his primary … the media will likely zero in on O'Donnell and give Rangel a pass.
That is what Republicans are up against in November.