The fact is that many of the Senate Republicans’ top recruits are, in varying degrees, moderates: Charlie Crist in Florida, Rob Simmons in Connecticut, Mark Kirk in Illinois, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, and they are still hoping for Michael Castle in Delaware. (Castle is 70 and another member of the cap and trade eight.)
In some cases, like Florida and Connecticut, there are more conservative candidates in the race who poll competitively in general election matchups but not quite as well as the moderate frontrunners. (I discuss this in the July/August issue of the print magazine.) In other cases, like Illinois and Delaware, the moderates are pretty clearly the best — only? — chance the Republicans have.
Generally speaking, I don’t think electing someone with an “R” next to their name rather than a “D” is that important if they are going to vote in ways I dislike most of the time. This is especially true for someone like me, who is off the reservation on the few issues where moderates tend to vote with the party. But for conservatives to have any leverage in Washington, it is important to get the Democrats below 60 seats in the Senate, which may sometimes require supporting less than ideal candidates. It’s the Arlen Specter dilemma all over again. Unless all these moderates become Democrats.