In a few hours, the dust will settle in the Delaware GOP primary, but the fracas has opened up a rift among conservatives, likely to be easily healed on a national level, but as Jim Geraghty fears, perhaps not in the First State.
While generally warming to conservative challengers to establishment Republicans, Rich Lowry contends that O’Donnell is the opposite of one such challenger, Pennsylvania’s next Senator, Pat Toomey:
He would have been–he still is–a walking advertisement for conservatism: reasonable, serious, upstanding, deeply grounded. You could imagine Toomey changing the political landscape because he has the ability to persuade. O’Donnell will be the anti-Toomey, a conservative standard-bearer who could have been selected by a group of hostile people out to create an unflattering impression of us. To compare O’Donnell to Sharron Angle is an insult to Angle, who has her rough edges as a candidate but whose personal integrity is beyond reproach. What many O’Donnell supporters are implicitly arguing is that there can be no standards in evaluating candidates beyond an ideological litmus test–a deeply unconservative sentiment.
Emphasis added. Via James Taranto who reminds us:
Delaware is a much less conservative state than Alaska or Utah, or even Nevada or Pennsylvania. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver rates Castle’s likelihood of defeating Democrat Chris Coons (who is running unopposed) at nearly 95%, O’Donnell’s at 17%. From a conservative standpoint, those odds favor Castle, whose unreliable vote would surely be preferable to a Coons’s reliably liberal one.
If you’re going to take out an establishment Republican, do so with a candidate who is at least a credible representative of the conservative cause. It doesn’t advance our ideas to move forward with just anyone, merely for the sake of thumbing your nose at the establishment. That’s what the 60s were all about, not the conservative movement.
UPDATE: Over at the Weekly Standard, Jay Cost provides statistics showing just how Democratic Delaware has become and concludes:
The electability argument is so clear and convincing that the choice in Delaware is really between a moderate Republican, who will move the Senate to the right despite his centrism, and a liberal Democrat, who will not. A vote for O’Donnell today is tantamount to a vote for Chris Coons in November.
The obviousness of this point frankly leaves me thinking that this is more about sending a message to “RINOs” than about getting the most conservative Senate possible. That will endanger the Republican push to repeal Obamacare, and that leaves me very, very frustrated.