Let's begin this blog post with the standard disclaimer: In a low turn-out Primary election, almost ANYTHING can happen.
Nonetheless, Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's star - which appeared to be on an upward trajectory for about a week - has hit its zenith, and is now descending. Unfortunately for her, the wounds seem to have been largely self-inflicted.
Let's backtrack to only a few days ago: Ms. O'Donnell enjoyed a boomlet of national media attention - and presumably, campaign contributions - after some Tea Party endorsements in the shadow of the Tea Party's Senate victory in Alaska.
But then came that innuendo-filled video posted by former O'Donnell spokesman Yates Walker (which O'Donnell later repudiated on downstate conservative talk station WGMD, but only after repeating the innuendo several times!).
But perhaps even more damaging to O'Donnell: She repeatedly dodged questions from conservative talker Dan Gaffney (who has supported her in the past) about her claims on the campaign trail and the circumstances of her finances. In response, O'Donnell asserted the Castle campaign had simply paid off Gaffney.
(Indeed, it IS telling that the state's two conservative talk show hosts, our own Rick Jensen and the aforementioned Gaffney, dis Christine O'Donnell. That both Jensen and Gaffney regarded President George W. Bush as "too liberal" tells you volumes. In other words, while they're ideologically much closer to O'Donnell than to Mike Castle, they're deeply troubled by O'Donnell's credibility and knowledge base.)
But the final thing which has cost O'Donnell: An interview with The WEEKLY STANDARD, in which O'Donnell says her foes are following her:
"They're following me. They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars..."
Memo to Christine O'Donnell: Even if you THOUGHT such a thing were happening, don't tell it to the media, even conservative media. Just report it to the police. Otherwise, you look like a paranoid.
Lest we forget political history, Ross Perot lost support after he came off as paranoid: For example, in 1992, when Perot announced the end of his Presidential bid because - he believed - Republicans were planning to disrupt his daughter's wedding. Or Perot's assertion that he lost his 1993 debate to Al Gore because a Gore aide was feeding Gore answers through a hidden earpiece. Etcetera.
Indeed, you can trace a linear line between the so-called "Perotistas" and some (but not all) Tea Party supporters today. The two movements share a number of characteristics.
But back to the Castle--O'Donnell Republican Primary race.
As I said at the start, ANYTHING can happen in a low turn-out primary.
The fact that the Castle Campaign - for the first time in his career - is airing attack ads in a Primary campaign tells you volumes. In Alaska, Senator Lisa Murkowski did not go "negative" against her Tea Party opponent until it was too late. As different as Alaska and Delaware are, doubtless the Castle Campaign - and the G.O.P. establishment - absorbed that lesson.
I always wondered what it would take for "nice guy" Mike Castle to ditch the schmaltzy "Delaware" commercials, and REALLY "go negative". Now he has. (Although the Castle campaign is also running positive spots.)
(Apart from the usual conservative boilerplate issues, Alaska Tea Party candidate Joe Miller - now the Republican Senate nominee - assailed Murkowski for being too soft on abortion. That issue has NOT figured prominently in the current Castle--O'Donnell skirmish, although the two candidates are on opposite sides.)
To conclude: Make no mistake. Tea Party groups will ensure you hear Christine O'Donnell's ads through Election Day. National Tea Party people are NOT dissuaded by our local talk show hosts who believe the Empress has no clothes.
Similarly, the Republican establishment and the Castle campaign will go all out to defend their candidate against what they regard as outrageous attacks and innuendo.
Who is smiling? Certainly, Democrat Chris Coons (although he can't exactly admit it!) And local media outlets, on the receiving end of all those ad buys.
UPDATE: A "Tea Party Express" poll suggests Christine O'Donnell has narrowed the Primary race to single digits behind Congressman Castle. That poll of G.O.P. voters had Castle leading O'Donnell, but by only 43.7--38%.
Of course, we know nothing about the credibility, methodology, etc. And even if legit, this snapshot of a poll probably didn't reflect the Thursday negative coverage of O'Donnell.
All the more reason to hope Public Policy Polling follows through with its tantalizing suggestion that it might poll G.O.P. primary voters in Delaware the weekend of September 11--12.
The O'Donnell Campaign emailed me today this message:
Last night, Christine made the following statement to a crowd of over 200 supporters in response to the NEWS JOURNAL's comments that Castle is gay:
"I do not endorse that kind of mudslinging, and I'm asking all of my supporters not to go down that route. I am challenging Mike Castle to publicly denounce G.O.P. State Chairman Tom Ross' mudslinging and ask all of the Delaware State Republican Committee to stop the thug politics. From here on out, it should be about the stark contrast between our stance on the issues and let the voters decide based on our positions.
Not only is it the high road for Mike Castle to take, it would be politically expedient. His personal attacks have caused my supporters to rally to my defense. We have received more donations in the past 3 days than the sum total of the past 3 weeks."
LOUDELL NOTE: Note the O'Donnell Campaign repeats the innuendo in the lead-in, even as the candidate denounces "that kind of mudslinging". Also, to be precise, it wasn't the "NEWS JOURNAL's comments", it was the newspaper reporting on the substance of a video from a conservative website.
If you want an example of a national conservative blogger who can't stand Mike Castle, but who - nonetheless - has soured on Christine O'Donnell over the past 24 hours, try Red State.com...
I listened to Dan's interview from WGMD with Christine O'Donnell. Wow, what an irritating interview. I’m a registered Independent, I can’t vote in the primary. However, IF that crazy women (Ms. O’Donnell), who makes Sarah Palin sound like a Rhodes scholar, becomes the Republican candidate, I will vote for Chris Coons. The thing the Delaware Tea Party forgets is, this is a BLUE state, because New Castle County has 2/3’s of the population. So moderate to liberal leaning NCC has to be won in order for a candidate to win a statewide election. So maybe the ultra right wingers in Sussex and Kent County like this Sarah Palin wannabe, but she won’t sell at all in NCC. So if you want a GOP Senator, then the GOP better put up the moderate GOP candidate, Mike Castle. He has served Delaware well. The polls show Mr. Castle winning the election. Ms. O’Donnell couldn’t win a statewide election for dog catcher, much less Senator.
So the Delaware Tea Party, has a choice, to be stubborn and foist this totally unqualified person on the ballot and end up with a Liberal Democrat who will ONLY support Democrat policies, or support Mike Castle, a moderate Republican who will support most GOP policies, but yes will sometimes vote with the Democrats. Like it or not, that is the choice. Will the Delaware Tea Party put the state’s best interest ahead of their agenda or will they play politics and give the Senate seat to the Democrats.
Are there any websites that clearly post the positions of each candidate?
I have received a LOT of mail from the Castle campaign in the past two weeks, and just received my first from O'Donnel today. I would like to find out who is telling the truth, or is truth too much to hope for in politics?
I know that it is true Castle is for Cap/Trade, voted for TARP and has received an F rating from the NRA.
I have also read that O'Donnel is a paranoid (stalked by Castle) and uses campaign funding to pay her rent.
SO, what is true?
Mon, Sep 6, 2010 12:11am
You should check out Christine O'Donnell's website. She has video of DE GOP and Castle people videotaping her at several meetings. On her site she also refutes several of the claims against her by Castle.
Mon, Sep 6, 2010 4:05pm
Let's get serious here and cut to the chase. This isn’t a perfect world, and politics is all about compromise (politics makes for strange bedfellows). Be realistic, Delaware is NOT Arizona, Mississippi, or Wyoming, all solidly RED states. New Castle County has 2/3′rds the population, so as goes NCC so goes Delaware. NCC is a solidly BLUE county (moderate leaning left). In a statewide race, the GOP needs moderate leaning right or moderate leaning left voters in NCC to vote for their candidate or they will NOT win the election. There are simply not enough conservative voters in the entire state to carry your candidate. Like Obama, in 2008, needed White voters, because there are not enough Black voters nationally to win the election for him. So your choice is simple, push for O’Donnell and have her win the primary (so the tea party folks feel good that they got their candidate in) and lose the general election to the liberal Democrat Coons who will vote ALL the time with the Democrats, or get moderate GOP Mike Castle, who will vote MOST of the time with the GOP and some times with the Democrats. It is what it is. That IS the actual choice, once we get past all the smoke and mirrors of this and that. So will Delaware help Congress push back and possibly stop Obama’s programs, or do we send a supporter of ALL Obama’s programs in the liberal Democrat Chris Coons. THAT is the actual choice. THAT is what this primary election is all about for the GOP candidates.
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