David Catron took to these pages Monday to excoriate conservatives and tea partiers for GOP losses in November, you know, the November that is still over a month away. Why would he do this? Well, after using every dirty trick in the book to make sure the establishment candidates won their primaries this year, those much-vaunted incumbents aren’t faring as well against their Democrat opponents as we were all promised. So naturally, establishment hacks and their BFF’s are dabbling in a little battlefield preparation.
Should the Republicans fail to win the Senate in November, with their slate of Elder(ly) Statesmen and no icky tea party candidates, they need to find someone besides themselves and their liberal policies to blame. As we get closer to the election, we will see more and more of this sort of moaning and complaining. The establishment and their cronies need to make sure that the tea party gets blamed, even when our candidates aren’t running. So they’re already trying to advance the narrative that tea party, grassroots voters are going to sit out the election, causing the Republicans to lose (as though that’s the only way these candidates can lose).
Take note: Instead of working to get out the vote, educate voters, and advance Republican and conservative principles in key states, and fire up the base, the establishment has already thrown in the towel. They are trying to shape a narrative about why their candidates lost instead of making sure their candidates win. Their narrative is that tea partiers are… what were those words you used, David? Oh yes. Tea partiers are naïve, sophomoric, and stupid, and this trifecta of character flaws will cause us to behave like petulant children.
Actually, let’s take an inventory of recent establishment Republicans who lost their primaries and subsequently threw epic temper tantrums instead of supporting the primary winner.
The Grand Dame of Alaska politics, a woman who was initially appointed to her US Senate seat by her own corrupt father who vacated the seat in order to take office as Governor, lost her primary bid to tea party candidate Joe Miller in 2010. Did Ms. Murkowski gracefully concede and throw her support behind her fellow Republican? Did she unite with Joe Miller to defeat the Democrat and ensure Republican control of the seat? Did she have, as Catronemphatically states, a grain of sense?
Oh no, no, no, no. If only. No. Lisa Murkowski took her voters for granted, got cocky and lazy, and forgot she needed to earn their votes. When she didn’t fight hard enough in the primary and lost, she claimed that somehow not enough Alaskans had a voice and were begging her to do… something. She launched a nasty write-in campaign, urging Democrats to unite behind her candidacy by marginalizing the actual Democrat candidate and demonizing the actual Republican candidate. By throwing a hissy fit and pulling the Democrats away from the Democrat candidate, Murkowski went on to win the election.
Remember this guy? Charlie Crist is the perennial candidate and orange-tinted former Governor of Florida. Crist decided not to run for re-election as Governor and instead, in 2009 threw his hat in the ring for the open Senateseat up for grabs in 2010. He was the favorite and had a 30-point lead over some dude named Marco Rubio, a Florida state legislator. Fast forward to April 2010 when it was apparent that the tea party was going to carry Marco Rubio to victory, and Crist left the Republican Party to run as an independent in that Senate race.
This could have very well split the Republican vote, allowing the Democrat to win. However, due to Rubio’s tenacious and enthusiastic support from the grassroots tea party movement, he was able to handily defeat both Crist and the Democrat. Where was the handwringing when Crist jeopardized the seat by running as an independent? Since losing in 2010, Crist has gone on to such heights as becoming a Democrat, endorsing Barack Obama for re-election in 2012, and running for Florida Governor again this year, this time as a Democrat. Stay classy, Charlie!
Thirty-six years in the U.S. Senate makes a man lazy as all get out. Just ask former Indiana Senator Dick Lugar. Long story short, Lugar took his voters for granted. He often voted against his own party’s platform, didn’t do the work it takes to win, and he faced an energetic, passionate opponent named Richard Mourdock, the Indiana State Treasurer. All of those facts led him to lose his primary in 2010. So what did Respectable Statesman Richard Lugar do when he lost? Why, he promptly endorsed Mourdock, and helped him campaign all across the state, and that’s how the GOP kept that seat and why Senator Mourdock — oh no, wait. That’s not what happened. Dick “Sour Grapes” Lugar refused to endorse or campaign for Richard Mourdock even though the GOP was desperately trying to win control of the Senate, and they needed the Indiana seat to remain in Republican hands.
While Lugar lost the primary fair and square, he had some very die-hard, loyal devotees. He could have asked them to give their support to Mourdock, for the good of the party and all that, but he did not. In fact, it’s an open secret in Indiana that Lugar was quietly undermining Mourdock and encouraging his supporters to cross over and vote for the Democrat. Lugar got his vengeance and the Democrat won the seat that should have gone to the Republicans. Dick’s “helpfulness” doesn’t end there. He is currently fundraising for Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn in her bid to win the open Senate seat in this critical year because he’s good friends with her daddy.
From 1993 to 2011, Mike Castle served as Delaware’s at-largerepresentativeto the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously also served in the Delawarestate legislature and as the state’s 69th Governor. In 2010, he ran in aspecial election for the seat that Joe Biden held before he was elected VicePresident. In typical lazy, incumbent fashion, Mike Castle expected to winhis primary and therefore did not work to earn votes. Thus, when newcomerChristine O’Donnell jumped in the race and did the hard work to persuadeand turn out voters, she won the primary.
After being lectured pre-election day about GOP voters coming together to support Mike Castle, because of course he was going to win — surprise, surprise — Mike Castle refused to support Christine O’Donnell when he actually lost: “A senior aide to Rep. Mike Castle told POLITICO the nine-term congressman will not be endorsing newly minted GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell.” We’ll never know for sure, but had Mike Castle supported Christine O’Donnell, vouched for her across the state, and encouraged voters to give their support to her, it is very likely that the GOP would have picked up that seat in 2010.
It is imperative to point out that the tea party candidates mentioned here attacked the incumbents’ own voting records. They didn’t make up lies about them or use dirty tricks. Why is this an important fact to note? Because David Catron brought up the Mississippi primary as an example of a tea party candidate behaving badly. What David Catron failed to reveal was that the establishment in Mississippi put out print ads, radio ads, and robo calls telling black Americans that the tea party candidate wanted to stop them from voting.
It was the most vile, disgusting, corrupt, race-based, left-wing attack ever utilized by one Republican against another. After calling their own voters racist, Thad Cochran campaign and the Barbour clan now want the exact same voters to turn around and support Cochran. Dear reader, please take a few minutes to look at the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund’s white paper on the events that transpired in Mississippi. The documentation is there. The proof is there. There are campaigns, and politics is messy, but there are some lines you don’t cross if you have any integrity at all.
Lastly, David Catron, you turn the idea of representative democracy on its head when you blame the voters for a candidate’s loss. Elected officials, nay Public Servants, work for us. This means they must earn our trust and our votes. If they simply expect to always win without working for it because they feel entitled to “their” seat, they will quickly stop representing their constituents — i.e. their voters. So when a candidate trails in the polls or loses on election day, à la Mitt Romney, it is his fault and the fault of the consultants he hired. He did not earn the votes of enough Americans. When Mitch McConnell says that he wants to “punch” tea partiers “in the nose,” he is to blame if those same people don’t turn out to vote for him. Rule #1 in politics, I’m pretty sure, is do not threaten to punch your voters in the face.
To turn it around and put the onus on the voters is to completely distort the entire premise of our Republic. This is a message to the GOP and to GOP apologists like you, David Catron. If you want to win, you must first respect your voters, and you must earn our votes. To earn our votes, you must provide us with a true alternative to the Democrat in the race. If you want to run as Democrat-Lite, then you must live with the consequences. David Catron, you wanna reference Reagan? How about this one: “Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”
Give us something to believe in. Inspire us. And by “us” I don’t just mean the tea party. I mean America. Americans want leaders with vision and conviction, and dammit, they want people who keep their promises, and recently, this has not been the Republican Party. However, the Democrat Party has put our nation on a collision course with despair and destruction. We’d have better luck facing an asteroid than allowing the Democrats to continue in any positions of power. What I’m trying to tell you is that there is a void, and this country desperately needs people and parties that have integrity and the right solutions.
And by the way, David, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund is in North Carolina (and other states) running a ground game against Democrat Kay Hagan even though we endorsed Greg Brannon, who lost in the GOP primary. Similarly, Senate Conservatives Fund is encouraging support for a set of candidates that they did not support in the primaries. Our activities and rhetoric stand in stark contrast to those of, say, John McCain who stated one week ago that he would not campaign for Republican candidate Cory Gardner in Colorado. What was his reason? Was it based on principle? A vast difference in philosophy and policy? Er, no. Gardner’s Democrat opponent Mark Udall’s father was a “good friend and mentor” to McCain. Derp.
David Catron — do you understand this? The race in Colorado may very well determine which party controls the Senate, and Gardner and Udall are only separated by one point, and McCain won’t help Gardner because he was friends with a man who is not even alive. Where is your diatribe against John McCain for refusing to help Cory Gardner because of a friendship with his opponent’s dad? We aren’t the ones, as evidenced above, consumed with a case of sour grapes. We aren’t the ones that put personal feelings above the future of our nation. We never give up on our country.
Come November, if these Republican Senate candidates lose because they did not convince enough voters to vote for them, and you are upset, you need to accept the fact that the candidates and Republican Party operatives screwed up. In other words, don’t be a whiner.
— Keli Carender, National Grassroots Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund
DAVID CATRON REPLIES:
Keli Carender, “National Grassroots Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund,” writes that I “took to these pages last Monday to excoriate conservatives and tea partiers for GOP losses in November… the November that is still over a month away.” That she obviously misunderstood the point of the piece, which was primarily a plea for conservatives not to play into the hands of the Democrats, is less important than the question with which she follows up this misinterpretation: “Why would he do this?”
The best way to answer that query is to quote a Republican of some note — Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Carender has apparently failed to grasp that an important element of the Democrat strategy this year is to divide and conquer. The President’s party is headed for an electoral debacle unless they can trick some conservatives and tea partiers into sitting home or voting for Democrat ringers this November simply because their candidates failed to win some primary bid.
In Kansas, for example, the Democrats have illegally forced their Senate nominee to drop out of the race in the hope that angry tea partiers will either sit home or vote for “Independent” Greg Orman rather than cast a ballot for Senator Pat Roberts, who had the temerity to beat Milton Wolf in the GOP primary. The smart move for these conservatives would be to send a message to the Democrats that their courthouse skullduggery is not enough to fool them into electing a Democrat shill like Orman.
Carender, in a sublime case of unintentional irony, unwittingly supports my point when she cites Republican Rep. Mike Castle’s refusal to support Christine O’Donnell in the 2010 general election (for Joe Biden’s vacant Senate seat) after she unexpectedly beat him in the Delaware primary. “We’ll never know for sure, but had Mike Castle supported Christine O’Donnell, vouched for her across the state, and encouraged voters to give their support to her, it is very likely that the GOP would have picked up that seat in 2010.”
Yet Carender supports the effort of Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel to torpedo an incumbent who unexpectedly beat him in their state’s GOP primary. Indeed, McDaniel is not merely refusing to endorse Thad Cochran, he is actually suing him. Carender suggests this is justified by what she describes as Cochran’s “vile, disgusting, corrupt, race-based, left-wing attack” on McDaniel. She claims to understand that “politics is messy,” but supports sore loser tactics that far exceed the sins of Mike Castle.
Meanwhile, the Democrats watch hopefully, and Carender accuses me of the following offense: “David Catron, you turn the idea of representative democracy on its head when you blame the voters for a candidate’s loss.” Nope. Senators are no longer elected by state legislatures. They get to Washington by winning the popular vote. In other words, if the Democrats get out and vote while Carender and her friends sit home and sulk, the blame for the inevitable Democrat corruption and bad policies rests squarely on the shoulders of these abstaining voters.
All mature voters understand that a trip to the polls usually means one will have to pull the lever for the least worst candidate. If you are foolish enough to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, you lose. During the 2012 presidential primaries, I wrote in this space why I believed Mitt Romney was a poor candidate. But, after he won the nomination, I quit griping. And, on Election Day, I voted for him without hesitation. Why? Because, despite his faults, I knew he would be a far better President than Barack Obama.
And, though it has been forgotten by many, Ronald Reagan was by no means the perfect candidate. Nonetheless, when I voted for him the first time — before Carender was born — it was blindingly obvious that he would represent my interests and those of the nation far more effectively than would have the feckless Jimmy Carter. So to reiterate Reagan’s words about political campaigns, “There is no substitute for victory.” You can whine or you can win. Those are your choices.