I will not rehash the case I made against Christine O’Donnell here, suffice it to say that while I don’t think she’s the best candidate Delaware Republicans could have nominated for Senate seat once held by Joe Biden, I do think she is the better of the two candidates currently vying to serve out the Vice President’s term.
She didn’t run a stellar campaign (but her opponent ran an inept one). She isn’t a charismatic figure like Scott Brown, nor an insightful conservative thinker like Pat Toomey, but she was in the right place, at the right time, with the right message.
She wasn’t just running on the “Tea Party” themes of small government and individual freedom, she was also running against the Republican establishment that doesn’t get the popular mood. (One could argue that those themes and that opposition are one and the same.) “O’Donnell’s victory was,” James Taranto contends, “a rebuke to an out-of-touch Republican establishment in both Delaware and the District of Columbia“.
. . . in 2010 are not being swayed by the anointment of the Good Ol’ Boys in the GOP’s picks to run for office. They are rejecting the career politicians and the system; the O’Donnell win is representative of this. And, while I do not agree with many of O’Donnell’s social issues or statements, her win is indicative of the rejection of politics as usual in the GOP.
Exactly. A rejection of politics as usual. (Mattie, by the way, is a heckuva nice gal (I met her). She opposed Prop 8 and supports repeal of DADT.)
Mattie’s not alone. And this anger, as Mark Tapscot notes, is rooted in principle:
First, the anger among Republican voters is not limited to the far right reaches of its “base.” Castle was one of the most popular political figures in the state, yet his support in Congress for TARP bailouts, the radical House version of Cap-and-Trade, and the DISCLOSE Act marked him back home among his fellow Republicans as more a representative of the Washington Establishment to Delaware than Delaware’s representative to Washington.
Lesson: The days of “moderate” Republicans in Congress being able to talk the talk of reform in Washington without actually walking it are rapidly coming to an end everywhere except perhaps in the deepest, darkest reaches of the Northeast.
That a candidate with a lot of baggage could defeat one of the most popular figures in the state, a man who had already won twelve previous statewide races says a lot about the mood this year. People weren’t voting for her so much as what she represented, the ideas of Ronald Reagan (favoring more freedom) and the concerns of the rank-and-file Republican voter (upset at a party’s leadership that has lost sight of the Gipper’s vision).
Instead of getting that message, many in the GOP establishment have been pouting. Sure, Castle had a better shot of winning the general, but he lost the primary, so there’s no way now he can win in November. Let’s move on and learn from his loss.
Christine O’Donnell’s victory shows that the energy this fall is on the side of the Tea Party, citizens fed up with politics as usual and concerned about the growing size of government. Given what we saw in Delaware on Tuesday, representatives of other establishments should expect to see a fate similar to Mike Castle’s come November 2.
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