Sarah Palin endorses Christine O'Donnell; Delaware G.O.P. files complaint against O'Donnell campaign, Tea Party Express
A flurry of developments in Delaware's U.S. Republican Senate Primary campaign as I was anchoring our afternoon news.
After several hours of coverage about tweets and retweets from ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's official Twitter account, Palin formally endorsed O'Donnell during an apparently unexpected call to a nationally-syndicated talk program.
O'Donnell subsequently thanked the former governor with a tweet: "Thank you for your clear confidence in my candidacy. Strong conservative women will take our country back."
Nearly simultaneously, the Delaware G.O.P. filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, asking the F.E.C. to investigate "potentially illegal coordination between the Christine O'Donnell campaign for Senate and the Tea Party Express Political Action Committee (PAC)".
The Delaware Republican Party pointed "to two alarming instances of this activity":
* "O'Donnell has knowingly accepted excessive contributions from the Tea Party Express that were directly solicited on behalf of the O'Donnell campaign."
* "O'Donnell has accepted illegal excessive contributions from the Tea Party Express by engaging in a statewide coordinated communications effort in support of her campaign. This means that every advertisement that is being run by the Tea Party Express in support of Ms. O'Donnell is a violation of Federal law."
So what's the fallout from all this?
I continue to believe most hearts have hardened. No endorsement - and no allegation of potentially illegal campaign activity - will shift people from one camp to another.
You either like Mike Castle and despise Christine O'Donnell - or the reverse.
Of course, Democrats and liberals sit at the sidelines, enjoying every moment of this G.O.P. civil war.
The big question, of course, is turn-out: Does all this only further energize the Christine O'Donnell / Tea Party forces, especially in Sussex County? Or even while it does, do these developments really fuel turn-out by more 'moderate' Republicans, the business establishment, old-fashioned Chateau County / Brandywine Hundred Republicans?
Castle's problem: Some of his longtime G.O.P. supporters may not be registered Republican any more, having defected to vote in the last Democratic primaries for President and for Governor.
O'Donnell's problem: Some "true believer" conservatives may be so "pure", they may not have been registered as Republicans either. And one senses some pushback to "outsiders" trying to decide a Delaware election.
We should know the outcome of this battle for the soul of the Delaware G.O.P. Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
But wait. The Castle---O'Donnell rivalry could very well go into overtime, if the loser runs as a third-party candidate in November. O'Donnell almost certainly would.
People who know Castle better than I say he's a loyal Republican through and through. Still, with Alaska's defeated Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski still reportedly considering an independent bid, does even Castle truly know what he would do?
I raised that question to Congressman Castle during an on-air interview:
"Of course, I have.. obviously.. don't intend to lose. And secondly, never even given any thought to that. Obviously, that could be, you know, detrimental to Republicans. A good example of that might be Governor Crist down in Florida, whose got some reasonable chance of winning that election in a three-way race."
But later, Castle said:
"If I were to lose in a Primary circumstance, I'm not sure I'd want to move forward. I'd have to give it thought. But, that's not what my plans or interests are."
Okay Congressman, I responded... Didn't you leave a little bit of wiggle-room?
Castle: "The wiggle-room is in that I just really haven't approached it. I'm confident in our polls. I'm confident in what the outcome of this will be."
Here's my complete interview with Congressman Castle...
UPDATE: Interviewed again Friday by WDEL's Amy Cherry - perhaps in reaction to my suggestion of very slight "wiggle room", Congressman Castle declared forcefully and unequivocally he was running as a Republican in this Primary, period.
Also~ The Castle Campaign is trumpeting an endorsement from The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. But, given the current climate, does that matter?
No doubt an endorsement from a "liberal" newspaper editorial board just adds fuel to the O'Donnell / Tea Party forces. But, does it motivate one more New Castle County 'moderate' Republican to visit the polls Tuesday?
The TIME magazine website carries a story headlined with this question: "Can the Tea Party Cross the Delaware?"
I was originally going to hold my nose this September and vote for the "moderate" Castle the same way I pulled the lever for the "moderate" McCain in 2008.
However, I have grown tired of moderates; even McCain has had to re-invent himself as a conservative (not the Maverick Moderate) to win in the AZ primary.
I know Delaware is definitely not Arizona, but I also think that many Delaware Republicans are tired of moderates who vote more with the other side of the political aisle. If O’Donnell truly is who she appears to be I think that she will offer Delaware and the nation a refreshing change from a career politician who changes with the political winds to remain in power.
If a liberal state like New Jersey can elect someone like Chris Christie I think that someone like Christine O’Donnell has a good chance of winning in September and November in Delaware.
Do you think if O'Donnell wins the primary she will be supported by Castle and the GOP?...or will Castle be the next Charlie Crist and run as an independent?
Fri, Sep 10, 2010 11:51am
I hope you excuse me if I beg out of those questions, even on this blog.
This race has gotten so super-sensitive, I don't want to make any judgments or predictions apart from general analysis.
To your last question, I can only refer you to Castle's response above.
Fri, Sep 10, 2010 6:17pm
Does Delaware have a "sore loser" law that would keep whoever loses the primary from being on the ballot in November?
Fri, Sep 10, 2010 6:39pm
No, Delaware doesn't. That's why we've been asking the candidates about this possibility.
Fri, Sep 10, 2010 11:40pm
Third party candidates aren't the answer either. The problem is the system isn’t set up to give a third party the chance of winning. Ross Perot, who I supported, came the closest with 19% of the vote which diluted the GOP vote enough (between Bush 41 and Perot) that Bill Clinton won the General Election with only 43% of the vote. If Perot hadn’t been a factor Bush 41 would have easily won.
Sure, the tea partyers think the sun rises and falls with people like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell. In RED states they may even be in the majority, but in BLUE Delaware they are not, it’s not even close (tea party people, do your homework). The Tea Party Express, etc, can spend a Billion Dollars on radio/TV/Junkmail advertising and may be able to get enough of their folks out for the Primary to get O'Donnell on the ballot as the GOP candidate (remember in Delaware ONLY registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary), but the tea party candidate Christine O'Donnell will not win the General Election, so big deal, the tea party wins the battle and loses the war. I’m glad the Tea Party doesn’t run our military.
Rush Limbaugh mentioned on his show Thursday that IF Delaware Republicans want a Republican Senator, they need a moderate candidate like Mike Castle, BECAUSE Delaware is a liberal state and won’t vote for someone like Christine O’Donnell. Even Rush gets it. William F. Buckley got it, WGMD’s conservative talker Dan Gaffney gets it, WDEL’S conservative talker Rick Jensen gets it, even liberal talker on WDEL Al Messitti gets it, but the Tea Party doesn’t get it. The tea party wants an instant revolution where they can simply add Delaware as another notch on their political belt. Their zeal is blinding them to the reality of what is Delaware.
The Tea Party could easily help Delaware’s Senate seat go to a Republican, but they’ll have to compromise and send a moderate Republican who will vote MOST of the time with the GOP and some times with the Democrats.
From what I read here on Allan's blog and other places, and from the Tea Party people I've personally talked to, the Tea Party would rather vote in liberal Democrats to Congress rather than vote in a moderate Republican. That’s like cutting off your nose in spite of your face, which the Democrats are glad to let you do. All your way or nothing.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if Delaware ends up sending a liberal Democrat to Washington rather than a moderate Republican and Chris Coons' votes in the Senate kept the GOP from turning back the Obama agenda, stranger things have happened.
Frankly, I’m starting to believe that the Tea Party really doesn’t care about stopping Obama’s vision for America, they just want to wield power. The Tea Party apparently can’t see the glass half full, but would rather have an empty glass. Then you folks wonder why only the real zealots are tea party people????
To win a general election, you’ve got to appeal to the regular Jane and John Doe’s who aren’t political junkies like the tea party people are. Unfortunately, it appears that the tea party folks aren’t really interested in winning the election, IF their tea party person isn’t on the ballot. The tea party seems to see itself as a third party trying to replace the GOP without having to become a third party – sort of a stealth party.
The Polls show Delaware's Senate seat is the GOP's to lose. Will the Tea Party be smart enough to help Delaware send a moderate Republican to the Senate or will they play politics and help send a liberal Democrat instead to Washington?
Sat, Sep 11, 2010 11:17pm
Mike has it all wrong.
New Jersey is just as liberal as Delaware, yet they elected Chris Christie.
I'm tired of hearing about Castle as a moderate Republican, he's a liberal with a R behind his name. During his 8 years as Governor spending increased 3 times the rate of inflation ( when adjusted for population). That was more then Carper and Minner.
Conservatives/Libertarians in the state are tired of these liberal Republicans the state party keeps throwing up as candidates (Ting??).
Pete Dupont was one of the states most popular Governors, he was hardly a "moderate" Republican.
Mon, Sep 13, 2010 10:39am
Pete DuPont GOVERNED more as a moderate. Only when he left office, and toyed with Presidential politics, did he move Right to contrast with the other candidates.
And, Delaware has arguably become more liberal in the period since the DuPont Administration.
That's partly because of the Wilmington metropolitan area coming under the embrace of the Philadelphia market.
(Michael Barone, Co-Author of The ALMANAC of AMERICAN POLITICS, and a FOX News political analyst, has noted this shift.)
It's also because of more liberal retirees moving into Beach areas (replicating the phenomenon we've seen in some affluent Florida beach areas).
Conservatives/Libertarians may be "tired of these liberal Republicans", but conservatives/libertarians are a distinct minority in Delaware.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't win in November, if enough discouraged liberals, progressives, African-Americans, and labor types sit on their hands in November.
And the New Jersey analogy may be invalid for a bunch of reasons, including the EXTREME unpopularity of the incumbent Democratic New Jersey Governor at the time; New Jersey's much higher taxes, and a mind-numbing array of tax-draining, governmental jurisdictions. And though Christie has confronted that state's Democratic power base, particularly public employees' unions, he's simply NOT the social conservative that O'Donnell or Urquhart are: He's wishy-washy pro-choice on abortion rights, for example.
Tue, Sep 14, 2010 8:28pm
Pete DuPont was a little more Conservative then you may remember.
Pete actually reduced the size of the State Government, and lowered taxes. Not the shell game that is played today.
In today’s world it would be a shocking if we could just get government spending to stay in line with inflation.
Pete also gave us the Sunshine Commission, an avenue by which we could revue outdated agencies and eliminate them if they outlived their usefulness. My research has not turned up one agency that has been given the axe in 35 years.
Mike Castle rode Pete’s coattails and became the face of Conservatism in Delaware. In the mind of voters if the only difference between a liberal and a conservative is the social issues (Abortion, War on Drugs) then you might as well go with the liberal.
As I stated previously, Castle spent during his eight years as Governor at a rate 3x’s the rate of inflation (adjusted for population). He outspent both very Liberal Governors Carper and Minner.
I don’t buy the idea that a fiscally conservative/libertarian can’t win in Delaware. I give two examples: Jack Dalton ran for the Bridgeville town council as a Libertarian, and won. He ran for re-election and won again. After his second term he ran for Mayor against a Democrat and Republican and won. It was no secret that Jack was planning on running for State Representative, and during his re-election for Mayor the two major parties worked in collaboration to defeat him, which they did.
In the bluest city in the bluest State, the late John Reda ran for Mayor of Elsmere. Elsmere was proposing a host of new permits and fees. John ran a hard campaign and lost by 37 votes. A Libertarian against an incumbent Democrat who had an edge in registered voters that should of made it a landslide.
If you asked your listeners, or just people on the street if George Bush was a liberal or a conservative how many would answer correctly that he was a liberal?
You see, the voters of Delaware don’t know what a fiscal conservative looks like because they have never seen one.
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