The sign on the door of the GOP is simple: “Moderates Need Not Apply”. The latest moderate GOP politician, if you can call him that, is Delaware’s lone Congressman Mike Castle. He is running for the Senate seat formerly held by Joe Biden before he became Vice President. Biden’s son Beau decided against running for his father’s former seat, leaving Castle as the favorite.
The Tea Partiers won’t have any of that, though. They strive for ideological purity over pragmatic political choices. You would think that they would have learned from last fall’s New York 23rd District that running teabaggers is not a way to win elections in swing districts. Democrat Bill Owens won that race, despite the fact that it had been Republican since the Civil War.
Instead, a right-wing challenger is exactly what Mike Castle is going to get. As reported by the Wilmington News Journal, Christine O’Donnell will challenge Rep. Mike Castle (R) in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary. She is a political commentator and a former (unsuccessful) two time candidate for Senate in 2006 and 2008. I can guarantee that O’Donnell will give Castle a run for his money if she fully embraces the Tea Party movement.
You may recall Congressman Castle from a town hall meeting last summer where a member of the audience brought in her birth certificate and demanded to know “why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?” Of course, she is referring to President Obama. The crowd burst into applause. “He is NOT an American citizen. He is a citizen of Kenya.” When Congressman Castle corrected her, the crowd booed him.
These people are the base of the Republican Party today. Moderates like Mike Castle, who will at least publicly say that the President is a U.S. citizen, are not popular with the Tea Party crowd. It’s odd how you are now a moderate if you can recognize facts from lunatic fringe conspiracy theories, but that’s the reality that we are living in.
Castle is not the only Republican facing a serious challenge from conservative challengers. Senator Arlen Specter was challenged from the right in Pennsylvania and left the Republican Party last year because polling showed that he would lose to conservative Pat Toomey. He was just the first casualty of this war against moderates. Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, once the favorite to win the Republican nomination for Senate in Florida, is now trailing conservative challenger Marco Rubio by nearly 20 percent. Not even the nominee of the Republican Party in 2008 is immune to these primary challenges. John McCain is facing off against former Congressman J.D. Hayworth.
For Democrats, the self-implosion of the Republican Party from right-wing extremists is a welcome development going into the 2010 elections. Democrats can position their candidates against the same tired conservative politicians that ran the country into the ground under George W. Bush. Unfortunately, it also means that there will be even fewer potential allies for President Obama and Congressional Democrats to turn to in order to pass legislation.
Tags: arizona, birth certificate, birthers, charlie crist, christine o'donnell, conservative, delaware, florida, gop, j.d. hayworth, john mccain, marco rubio, mike castle, moderate, pat toomey, pennsylvania, polls, primary, republican, republican party, tea party, unwelcome