Cultural Revolutions

O'Donnellmania

The upset defeat of long-time congressman and former governor Mike Castle by Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican senatorial primary on September 14 revealed more about the frustrations of conservative voters with the GOP establishment than about the strengths of a long-shot Tea Party candidate.  If ever there existed a Republican state leadership that fit the stereotypical country-club image, it would be the one in Delaware.

I vividly recall a disagreement I had with John Burris, the GOP’s nominee for governor in 2000.  In a public debate days before, he had claimed to be the genuine “pro-choice” candidate.  When I challenged his pro-abortion stance, the best he could do was point to his opposition to partial-birth abortion.  He was unable to explain how his contradictory position made any sense, and neither could voters that year.  On another occasion, at GOP headquarters in 2004, a party official insisted that only “moderate” candidates like Arlen Specter could win statewide office in Pennsylvania.  She was forced to concede, however, that her position did not account for the other sitting senator, Republican Rick Santorum.  The fact that Santorum lost his 2006 reelection bid had much to do with the demoralization of his base following his endorsement of Specter over Pat Toomey in the senatorial primary, a race the latter would have won had the party establishment...

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