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Saturday, September 18, 2010

How will the Tea Party backed candidates fare in November?

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

I recall watching the Sean Hannity show on Fox News the night Rand Paul won the Republican primary for the senate race in Kentucky. That night his guest, the brilliant and arrogant democratic political strategists, Bob Beckel (who managed the 1984 presidential campaign of Walter Mondale) said, with some amount of glee, that you could mark up the Kentucky senate seat to the Democrat column. When challenged by Hannity Beckel exclaimed that he was a professional political observer and consultant and he knew what he was talking about. He also said that Paul was just too conservative and right-wing to win in Kentucky.

For those who are not aware Beckel was the mastermind behind Mondale’s defeat in 1984. Ronald Reagan came within 3.800 votes of taking all 50 states on that Election Day. Those 3,800 votes were in Minnesota, Mondale’s home state. As it was Reagan captured 525 electoral votes out of a possible 538 and 59% of the popular vote to Mondale’s 41%. I guess Beckel is a real professional.

As a professional engineer if I designed or built bridges, roads or pipelines the way Beckel manages campaigns I would be in jail. Enough Beckel bashing, you can take him and others of his breed for what they are, professional spinners.

As of September 8th Paul led his democrat opponent Jack Conway 54% to 39% (2% prefer another candidate and 4% are undecided). Paul has been gaining voters ever since his primary win and in spite of the elite media bashing him for his comments on civil rights.

Here are a few other senate race polls from Rasmussen. The first candidate shown is the Republican and the second the Democrat. All Republicans are supported by the Tea Parties.

  • Nevada: Angle 48%, Reid 48%
  • Washington State: Rossi 46%, Murray 51%
  • Wisconsin: Johnson 51%, Feingold 44%
  • Colorado: Buck 49%, Bennet 45%
  • California: Fiorina 48%, Boxer 47% with 3% undecided, This one appears close, but Boxer should be leading by 10 to 15 points in this blue state.
  • Delaware: O’Donnell 42%, Coons 53% with 4% undecided.
  • New Hampshire: Ayotte 51%, Hodes 44%
As soon as Christine O’Donnell won the Republican Senate primary in Delaware, the pundits pretty much wrote her off as unelectable in November.

Ms. O’Donnell is too conservative, too “tea party,” for a Democratic-leaning state like Delaware, they said. She has a sketchy financial past, including a mortgage default and allegations of unpaid loans and taxes. She reported just $5,800 in earned income between March 2009 and July 2010, according to a Senate financial disclosure form. Her professional background is also eyebrow-raising, at least outside conservative circles. During the 1990s, she worked for a pro-abstinence group and equated masturbation with adultery.

But remember: She has now proven she can win a race. She defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R) – as seasoned a politician as they come, well-known and well-liked statewide. Yes, it was the Republican primary in a state where the GOP has many fewer registrants than the Democrats. In the general election on Nov. 2, the tilted playing field and more typical candidate profile of the Democratic nominee, New Castle County executive Chris Coons, makes him the heavy favorite to win Vice President Biden’s old Senate seat.

But Mr. Coons and the Democrats dismiss O’Donnell at their peril, say Delaware political observers.

“There’s an assumption that O’Donnell is no more viable as a candidate than she was in the primary contest with Castle, and look where that ended up,” writes Joseph Pika, a political scientist at the University of Delaware in Newark, in an e-mail. “By all conventional political measures, she should not win, but this is not a conventional political year. Several conditions had to break her way to win the primary and I, among others, did not think they would all break her way – but they did.”

“Democrats could be overconfident,” he continues. “Democrats could be overaggressive – she could quickly become a more sympathetic candidate if everyone seems to pile on. If Democrats seem to practice politics as usual – be seen as committing character assassination, for example – they could confirm the basic appeal she has of challenging the establishment and ‘politics as usual.’ ”

The tea party movement boasts many high-profile women, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota, and Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle. And even though the GOP boasts fewer female candidates for congressional and gubernatorial seats than the Democrats, the imbalance is smaller than usual, and so 2010 has the feel of a “GOP Year of the Woman.” Ms. Angle’s continuing competitiveness against Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, even after being ridiculed nationally for her unorthodox views, provides more evidence that O’Donnell cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Of course, Nevada is more of a swing state than Delaware, and Senator Reid is deeply unpopular at home, but there’s already ample evidence that this is an unusual year. Just ask Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts, who was once 30 points behind his Democrat opponent.

According to News Busters no less than MSNBC’s  uber liberal Chris Mathews spat out the following in a dialogue with another uber liberal, David Corn (of Mother Jones magazine) and departed from the liberal media’s conventional wisdom that Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell's defeat of Republican favorite Mike Castle was good news for Democrats and President Obama.

Quite the contrary, the "Hardball" host has become extremely pessimistic about Democrat chances to retain Congress in the upcoming midterm elections, so much so that he likened his Party to the Titanic.  "The boat is sinking," he told fellow liberal David Corn. "The establishment is sinking."

Christine O'Donnell is a game-changer in the first regularly scheduled federal elections of the Tea Party era in more ways than one. The evidence? Read the reactions of three people from various parts of the political-media establishment: Peggy Noonan ("Why It's Time for the Tea Party"), Chris Matthews ("Chris Matthews Bets Lib Guest Christine O'Donnell Wins in November") and A.B. Stoddard of The Hill ("Tea Party's Already Won").

"Experts" said Ms. O'Donnell couldn't win in the Delaware Republican primary, and many now say she can't win the general election. They have hoped and said that about all the Tea Party backed candidates, but the vicious attacks on O'Donnell — especially those coming from establishment Republicans — demonstrate that the "smartest people in the room" have failed to grasp what the Tea Party knows is at stake.

The O'Donnell win is like my favorite line from the movie The Fugitive. U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones has fugitive Harrison Ford cornered. Ford says, "I didn't kill my wife." Jones replies, "I don't care." His job wasn't to sort that out on the spot. His job was to bring in the fugitive. Sometimes justice gets sorted out later.

The Tea Party has an urgent mission. Justice will be sorted out. Noonan, Matthews, and Stoddard are at least beginning to grasp what is happening. Others — professional political consultants, the political media, the political class, indeed, all who have a vested interest in big government — are in denial. Karl Rove defended his self-ruinous election eve attack of O'Donnell on Fox News' Hannity show by claiming he's not a cheerleader for every Republican candidate. Funny, prior to Tuesday night, that's exactly what he was. He was also the cheerleader for policies that ended the Republican congressional majority and is as responsible as anyone for bringing about that "Hope and Change" thing. If he was the "Architect," the people rejected his blueprint.

Washington Post columnist and FOX News contributor Charles Krauthammer has joined Karl Rove, the consigliere of Establishment Republicans, in a continuing attack on GOP Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell. Some longtime fans of Krauthammer are surely startled and saddened by his sustained assault on O'Donnell since she won the primary race against Mike Castle.

In an interview with Chris Wallace on his Fox News show Bill O’Reilly asked Wallace if he agreed with Krauthammer’s point of view. While praising Krauthammer for his intellect, Wallace took a different position. He realized that this was a unique year in American politics and he was not ready to write off O’Donnell’s chances. This Sunday Wallace will be interviewing O’Donnell. If she is direct and does not spin her past and sticks to her principles she will do well. I hope she will not evade the questions on taxes and mortgages, but if she gives a clear, honest answer she will do well. The American people, especially women, are a forgiving and understanding nation. They understand financial difficulties in their own households and will identify with O’Donnell. Wallace said he will not ask any questions of her sexual comments. It should be a good interview to watch. If she does well she will move up in the polls.

As has Rove, Krauthammer is invoking the "Buckley Rule." It was born in 1967, when William F. Buckley was asked whom he would support, Barry Goldwater or Richard Nixon, in the GOP primary for the 1968 Presidential election. Buckley said he'd vote for the most conservative candidate who was electable. That was Nixon.

In his September 17, 2010 column, Krauthammer essentially declared O'Donnell unelectable — he said “she has a one-in-ten chance to be elected — and accused Sen. Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin of being "reckless and irresponsible" by endorsing her. Krauthammer also criticized Sharron Angle, running against Harry Reid in Nevada, as a weak candidate, although he has not yet declared her defeated before the votes are counted.

The O'Donnell win is the people telling the establishment, "'We don't care.' You are failed stewards of freedom and our great national treasure, and you have messed up things so badly that you need to be replaced — now — before it's too late."

In every election, there are disappointments on all sides. However, any losses by Tea Party-backed candidates, but especially by O'Donnell, will come with highly charged "I-told-you-so" moments. On the other hand, wins by all Tea Party candidates — and especially O'Donnell — would come with hand-wringing, excuses, and a litany of "professional" reasons designed only to further the false narrative about the Tea Party. I am sure pundits such as Rove, Krauthammer and Beckel will find some reason to spin their erroneous take o this election cycle. Oh. If only I could have spun the reason for a faulty design of a bridge or road.

While Fox News has been a great addition to the national news media it tends to have an establishment Republican slant. I wish there were a non-establishment, constitutional, conservative competitor network to capture the rest of the huge American center-right market Perhaps we would get a better post-election picture in the Tea Party era. I guess it’s up the conservative radio talkers to give us that perspective.

To Tea Partiers, who have no allegiance to incumbents, it's like asking them: Who's worse — Obama, Pelosi, Reid, or the failed Karl Rove Republican establishment? It’s like the famous Jack Benny skit in which a thief approaches him and demands, "Your money or your life." Benny pauses. The thief then says, "Well, what is it?" Benny replies, "I'm thinking; I'm thinking.

There isn't a Tea Partier who doesn't understand the danger of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda. Any Republican taking any title for granted, however, is a problem. Now, you've got to earn it. With this first federal election of the Tea Party era, the choice is no longer between the lesser of two evils.

Christine O'Donnell is that lesson. At Friday's Values Voter Summit in Washington, she said, "They don't get it. We're not trying to take back our country. We are our country." That reminded me of another outsider derided by the establishment: Ronald Reagan.

With Democrats on the run in so many races, their resources are stretched. Democrats will need to rely on bitter Republicans to fend off O'Donnell's run in Delaware. Conservatives mustn't allow the bitter Republicans to destroy the chance to take the Senate by backing down from, or making excuses for, their establishment "friends”. Before this election is over one of them is sure to invoke Godwin’s Law of “reductio ad Hitlerum.” They just won’t be able to stop themselves.

As another proof of my hypothesis Senator Lisa Murkowski has placed personal ambition and sheer pique above party and principle in announcing a write-in campaign for Senate in Alaska, thereby earning the eternal enmity of conservatives throughout the United States. The question is not whether she will win (she won't, because write-in campaigns are nearly impossible), but whether she will succeed in throwing the election to Democrat Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, who is the Democratic nominee.

This is another example of an establishment Republican saying they will take their ball and go home if they can’t play. In true form in the vein of Charlie Christ, Arlen Specter and Mike Castle, Murkowski has displayed the arrogance and hubris of her kind — the established politicians with a sense of entitlement to the office they hold or the one they aspire to.
I have personally witnessed this arrogance. While lobbying for the National Height Modernization Program, in Washington, D.C., I met with several house and senate members. One of those was Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). She is about three feet tall and is constantly accompanied by an entourage of sycophants. When I shook hands with her I was sure, from the look on her face that she couldn’t wait to wash her hands with Purell. She didn’t hear a word I said and told me she had just come from a meeting where she wanted to get grants for “poor people” to get modern kitchens. After her little speech she excused herself and left me to one of the sycophants. She had absolutely no interest in something that would help the people of California and the nation. (I have devoted an entire chapter on this subject in my book; "Footsteps on the Land)

In this first federal election of the Tea Party era, we won't get all George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons. We'll take a few Patrick Henrys, Nathan Hales, James Otises, and others whose names won't make the history books. The Washingtons and Jeffersons may come. This is America. We always rise to the challenge. But we ain't waiting. Perhaps the only person to have the correct take on this year’s election is the spittle sprinkling Chris Mathews.

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