The tea party’s Delaware statement

Two years ago, who would have guessed that the big political story today would be whether Republicans had lost a sure Senate seat pickup in Delaware?

That context of the Democrats’ political slide since the heady days of faux Greek columns set against the Rockies — the idea that Joe Biden’s old seat was considered a goner, and that Barack Obama’s old seat may also go Republican in November — is necessary to understand how Christine O’Donnell’s upset win over longtime pol Mike Castle matters, and how it doesn’t.

There is little doubt that O’Donnell will have a much harder time winning in November than Castle would have. This is not a Pollyanna-ish view of last night’s primary results. Delaware isn’t Alaska, or even Nevada.

Many of the 27,000-plus Delawarians who voted for Castle may well go Democrat or stay home in the general election. And if Democrat Chris Coons beats O’Donnell, there will be a lot of GOP grumbling about the tea party groups that supported her.

But support for O’Donnell — or, more precisely, opposition to Castle — was a stand the tea party pretty much had to make.

Those who think the tea party exists to elect Republicans are mistaken. Tea party folks very often will end up voting for Republican candidates, but that says more about Democrats and their policy stances than it does the GOP.

What the tea party movement has said all along is that it is tired of politics as usual. If its members had backed Castle, who favors legislation like cap and trade that is anathema to them, in a Republican primary, it would have lost all credibility. Delaware may not be Kentucky or even California, but then Mike Castle isn’t exactly Carly Fiorina, either.

And whatever gains it — and the GOP — made this year would be very, very vulnerable come 2012. People remember 1994, but not only for the way the Democrats lost their majorities in Congress. They remember it for the way Republicans ended up losing their way not too long after they took over.

The tea party needed to serve notice to Republicans that it has not become a wholly owned subsidiary of that party. It needed to remind the party that its members favor principle over partisanship. If its members’ message and interests are going to have any long-term impact, they will survive one primary loss in a reliably blue state.

But what about practicality?

I don’t think practicality is a very big concern here. Even if Castle had won last night and ended up as a senator, the GOP probably would have had, at best, 48 or 49 senators come January. The party’s best hope then would have been to persuade a couple of conservative Democrats — Nebraska’s Ben Nelson comes to mind — to switch parties and possibly give it a slight majority.

But even having 51 senators would have been no guarantee of legislative success in that chamber. The area it would have affected most would be judicial appointments, and even there the GOP most likely will have enough votes to block any extreme nominees.

As long as Republicans win a majority in the House, they will be able to shape the agenda of the next Congress. That agenda will have to win some Democratic support in the Senate regardless of which party holds a narrow majority there. And if the GOP tide in November isn’t strong enough to win the House, it wasn’t going to be strong enough to win the Senate even if Castle had been on the ballot in Delaware.

(And for you die-hard Republicans who just want to win: Not having a majority in the Senate may also make it easier for you to claim Democrats are still in the way come 2012 — and to deny President Obama the ability to blame you on his way to re-election, as Bill Clinton did.)

If the tea party is going to have any lasting impact, it will still be helping to elect senators its members like in 2012. And it will be winning the public debate in a way that leads to true inroads in blue to bluish states.

In Delaware yesterday, it had to show that it believes that will be the case.

127 comments Add your comment

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
12:19 pm

The left is all up in arms over the Tea Party. It’s great to see the GOP establishment being kicked to the curb.

barking frog

September 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

Sarah Palin is hijacking the Tea Party by using
the inability of the media to report on a leaderless
party.

DEWSTARPATH

September 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

- I remember O’donnell from when she appeared on
Politically Incorrect. I wasn’t impressed.
‘Pollyannish’ could describe her political astuteness
and view of current events (at the time; circa 1997).

Jimmy62

September 15th, 2010
12:27 pm

Yep. O’Donnell is kind of a kook, but she’s also a lesson to the GOP powers that be; If you don’t listen to the Tea Party and give us some candidates with real small government credentials who will be serious about cutting spending and ending the endless rewarding of failure that goes on in this country, then you will lose, even with the Democrats doing their best to give away the keys to D.C.

To the GOP:
Give us some candidates that aren’t insiders, and that will take the Tea Party platforms seriously, or you will become irrelevant!

SwamiDave

September 15th, 2010
12:40 pm

I do find it intriguing that Democrats and their shills in the media are noting excitement that Republicans rejected a more “moderate” candidate in the primary. This fact as an expectation that they will “turn the tide” on their upcoming losses in November.

However, the reality is that Democrats are (and have been) nominating fringe partisan left-wingers (COMPLETELY out of the American political mainstream for years). Democratic leaders, since their return to power in recent election cycles, have been driving an extreme left-wing collectivist agenda that has been the major source for the current uprising.

It is the Democratic perfect world whereby they can put forth partisan liberal candidates who are running against “moderate” Republicans that fail to motivate their base.

Frankly, America does not need more elections providing a choice between fast-paced government expanding liberals versus moderate Republicans who desire to “slow the government growth”. The size of government needs immediate retraction.

Best of luck to Castle & thanks for his service, but conservative action ending and retracting liberal expansionism of government is our needed direction; not compromise with the thieves, mooches, and those whom they elect!

-SD

barking frog

September 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

Cross party voting in the primaries has corrupted
the process to the extent no one knows who
elected the candidate. The attempt to elect a
candidate easier to defeat in the General election
has caused deterioration in the quality of candidates.

songbird

September 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

barking frog – you are right. who knows how many democrats crossed over to vote for O’Connell in the primary in order to have a weaker candidate running in November. There’s a good chance that more than a few did just that.

Not So Casual Observer

September 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

The question in Delaware is not how the registered Republican voters react but how the independent voters see this election. If Independents do not wish for a continuation of the Liberal/Socialist agenda of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid Democrat Party then the Republican wins.

Not So Casual Observer

September 15th, 2010
12:48 pm

b frog @ 12:41,

That is something upon which we agree.

Kyle Wingfield

September 15th, 2010
1:00 pm

barking frog: That may be true in some cases, but it appears that Delaware has closed primaries: http://archive.fairvote.org/?page=1801

paleo-neo-Carlinst

September 15th, 2010
1:03 pm

I like the phrase; the Tea Party needed to serve notice to the Republicans that it has not become a wholly owned subsidiary of that party. Makes you kinda ask yourself who “owns” the GOP (and who owns the Democratic Party)?

Dave

September 15th, 2010
1:04 pm

It’s the Washington DC establishment vs. the rest of the country. You’d think they work for us, but that’s not always the case. Sad but true.

Churchill's MOM

September 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

I wish we had a Tea Party in Georgia. The morning paper says Nathan Deal is bankrupt so we are about to have a broke corrupt Governor. I will never vote for Deal after the way he lied about Karen Handel, John Monds has my vote and if there is a run off I’ll hold my nose & vote for Barnes.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

Obama is a kook. He thinks that the US consists of 57 states. Can’t get any kookier than that.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

“Sarah Palin is hijacking the Tea Party by using
the inability of the media to report on a leaderless
party.”

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

Larry Major

September 15th, 2010
1:32 pm

It’s funny cross voting in a primary came up. When I moved here, the way Georgia handles voter registration struck me as begging for this to happen.

In PA and NY (I’m pretty sure Delaware is the same way) you register a party when you register to vote and you may only vote in the primary for that party. It would be possible to “cross-vote” by switching your party registration, but I don’t think it happens very often. Even if you don’t actually join either party, everyone knows how you registered and it’s a VERY big deal. I’ve seen more than one “transaction” closed where the only consideration was how someone was registered, because it’s such a PR point. I have to think it was really GOP voters that called this primary.

tscali

September 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

i would rather go down fighting for principles than have the u.s.a. go down because we can’t pay the principal on our debt.

DEWSTARPATH

September 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

Billings

September 15th, 2010
2:29 pm

And the gay rights crowd would prefer they all dance like swans as opposed to flying like eagles. They would rather keep a good man down.

maggie

September 15th, 2010
2:29 pm

A coup d’ etat for the anti-masturbating wing of the gop.

Jefferson

September 15th, 2010
2:36 pm

There is no tea party, just republicans.

John

September 15th, 2010
2:37 pm

CAIR Bears…”Obama is a kook. He thinks that the US consists of 57 states. Can’t get any kookier than that.”

Can’t get any kookier that a possible slip of the tongue…really? Let’s see, what have the GOP and Tea Party candidates been saying:

1) get rid of Obama care and pay doctors in chickens
2) while advocating for smaller government, they are saying the government should force pregnant victims of rape and incest to have the baby and not be allowed an abortion
3) if Republicans don’t get their way, they will apply their 2nd amendment remedies
4) do away with department of education, medicare, medicaid and social security

and my favorite:

5) abstinence not only with a partner but also abstinence alone because when one masturbates it’s accompanied with lustful thoughts. Shel also said on national TV if men masturbates and know how to pleasure themselves, they wouldn’t need her…ie. women.

Yeah, I think these are certainly much kookier.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:39 pm

“Yeah, I think these are certainly much kookier.”

Sucks to be you.

maggie

September 15th, 2010
2:40 pm

John,

Excellent post!

John

September 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

No CAIR Bears…it sucks to be a Republican with these Kooks taking over their party. So much so, that neither the Delaware or Nation Republican Party will not help or support her.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:46 pm

“1) get rid of Obama care and pay doctors in chickens”

That line makes absolutely no sense. Doctors get paid just fine.

“2) while advocating for smaller government, they are saying the government should force pregnant victims of rape and incest to have the baby and not be allowed an abortion”

No they don’t.

“3) if Republicans don’t get their way, they will apply their 2nd amendment remedies”

When the Democrats don’t get their ways they scare old people with Social Security.

“4) do away with department of education, medicare, medicaid and social security”

That’s because they are all going bankrupt.

“5) abstinence not only with a partner but also abstinence alone because when one masturbates it’s accompanied with lustful thoughts. Shel also said on national TV if men masturbates and know how to pleasure themselves, they wouldn’t need her…ie. women.”

Huh?

“Yeah, I think these are certainly much kookier.”

See ya in November, John boy.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:47 pm

“No CAIR Bears…it sucks to be a Republican with these Kooks taking over their party. So much so, that neither the Delaware or Nation Republican Party will not help or support her.”

Keep telling yourself that, John.

The national Republican Party is pissed and scared that the RINO’s are gone. The conservatives are taking over whether you like it or not.

If the GOP can get Ted Kennedys old seat we can take ANYONE’S SEAT.

Again, sucks to be you.

John

September 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

I can see the headlines now is O’Donnell win the general election.

“Senator O’Donnell proposes the Nation Department of Anti-Masturbation”

Their motto…”Drop your c***s and grab your socks”

Their mission…”To keep women relevant by making sure men don’t learn how to pleasure themselves. This will also ensure we have future generations.”

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

CASH POURS IN FOR O’DONNELL; CAMPAIGN WEBSITE CRASHES…

Kyle Wingfield

September 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

John, I’m certain that the people talking about this, 14 years later, are the kooky ones. If this is the best the Dems can do against O’Donnell, she may win anyway.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

John

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn, is that the best ya got, pal?

Gasping for air you libs is.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

“If this is the best the Dems can do against O’Donnell, she may win anyway.”

And Palin is still the golden goose for the Tea Party. Gotta love that woman from Alaska!

Anyone that can anger the left that much is awesome in my book.

John

September 15th, 2010
2:57 pm

hmmm Kyle…doesn’t Repubs bring up past things when it comes to their Dem opponents?

John

September 15th, 2010
3:00 pm

but to keep it more in the present…let’s see, finally received the degree she has claimed to have had for the past 21 years. Made what, $5,000 – $6,000 salary in the past 15 months or so. Pay her apartment rent (which doubles as her office) from campaign contributions.

of course, all these attacks came from the Repubs…not Dems.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:02 pm

John

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

John

The Dems have a guy who faked his own military records yet you say nothing about that.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

The Crash, Obama and the Disappearing Dem Majority

The crash of our time came two years ago today. We know the economic story well. Lehman Brothers fell. The markets went with it.

But the political story of September 15 is barely known. That it made Barack Obama’s majority. That, two years later, it explains why the Democratic majority is on life support.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/09/15/september_15_crash_explains_obama_democrats_woe_107164.html

DEWSTARPATH

September 15th, 2010
3:09 pm

“DEWSTARPATH Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

Why ? I wasn’t arguing with anyone, Kyle. Here or anywhere
else.

John

September 15th, 2010
3:09 pm

CAIR Bears…you’re right…the Repubs do as well. This blog is about the upset in the Delaware primary. Just like I didn’t mention anything about Nathan Deal financial ruins yet he wants voters to let him run our state.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:10 pm

“Why ? I wasn’t arguing with anyone, Kyle. Here or anywhere
else.”

I was wondering that myself, Dew.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:11 pm

John

The Delaware race has the establishment GOP people in fear as well as libs. Karl Rove is angry because he worked for Mike Cassel a while back.

Conservatism is taking over and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:12 pm

“Just like I didn’t mention anything about Nathan Deal financial ruins yet he wants voters to let him run our state.”

The GA race is a mess. Two bad candidates from both sides. Sucks to be a Georgian.

Guy Incognito

September 15th, 2010
3:15 pm

John

The RNC just said that they will back O’Donnell in Nov. Sucks for you America hating libs
I think you need to drop your hate. Think of the children.

Hoping for Change in Nov ‘10 and 2012!

Guy Incognito

September 15th, 2010
3:16 pm

Agree CAIR and that’s why my vote will be for Monds.

Kyle Wingfield

September 15th, 2010
3:16 pm

Dew: I know you weren’t arguing. I was just cleaning up the thread, removing the comments about another blog…as you’d predicted. Don’t take it personally.

John

September 15th, 2010
3:17 pm

CAIR Bears…why is the GOP in fear? Could it be because this is a year the GOP should win back control of the House and have a good shot at winning back control of the Senate as well. But these Kooks are wining the primaries and could be putting the GOP in jeopardy of regaining control.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:18 pm

Guy Incognito

The establishment GOP hates the Tea Party because it disrupts their quest for power. We the people are sick of RINO’s and it’s been a long time coming to get rid of them.

A senate full of Mike Cassels will not get anything accomplished and would only give Obama more votes.

A senate full of tea party people will give libs and Obama fits and will officially end Obama’s agenda

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

“why is the GOP in fear?”

Because they hate conservatism and know that tea party candidates will usher in conservatism.

“Could it be because this is a year the GOP should win back control of the House and have a good shot at winning back control of the Senate as well.’

No, either way the GOP will win back the House and Senate.

“But these Kooks are wining the primaries and could be putting the GOP in jeopardy of regaining control.”

Keep on calling us kooks, John. If alienating and pissing off the electorate is your goal you left wingers are doing a great job at it.

jconservative

September 15th, 2010
3:21 pm

Nice column Kyle.

There was a country songs years ago that went “I was country when country wasn’t cool.”

With apologies, I will say “I was a ‘Tea Partier’ when Tea Partying wasn’t cool.” I go back to 1981 on this thinking and I welcome all aboard the train.

I was glad to see the Tea Party gain some influence in the body politic last night. It bodes well for 2012. It bodes well for the next session of Congress. What will the McConnell’s and Boehner’s of the congressional Republican Party do? What if 5 Tea Party Senators are elected and decide NOT to caucus with the Republicans but have their own caucus? How much power would they have?

But lets not go overboard.

The Republican voter turnout in Delaware was just 32%. That raises more questions than it answers. Who would have won had there been a 50% turnout among Republicans? The safe bet is that the Tea Party turned out en mass. That would leave the other 68% plus the Castle voters as “Non Tea Party” Republicans. In Delaware that would not be a surprise.

Don’t you just love politics?

John

September 15th, 2010
3:28 pm

Guy Incognito…and we’re suppose to believe they kissed and made up after such an ugly primary with all the attacks they levied against each other as well as the GOP levied against Ms. O’Donnell. Even saying she couldn’t be elected dogcatcher. The GOP schedule these “unity” meetings after the primary but how many of them have either been canceled or not attended by the losing opponent.