Flashback: The 2010 Delaware U.S. Senate Race
Erick Erickson of Red State has once again written his efforts in one of the top Tea Party triumphs of 2010. Five years later he is still proud of his role.
Erickson writes, “In Delaware, many conservative, myself included, made the conscious decision that it would be far better to have the Democrat win than Rep. Mike Castle because of what Castle would do whispering in the ears of Republican leaders. Few of us thought Christine O’Donnell could win. But Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint get particular blame for their endorsements.”
O’Donnell received tremendous national attention that year and her nomination changed the focus away from the economy and Obamacare. Reporters instead wrote about O’Donnell’s opposition to pre-marital sex, masturbation and pornography, and her links to witchcraft. After winning the nomination on September 15th, she hid from the media for three weeks.
O’Donnell claimed to have a master’s degree during her first campaign when she did not have a college degree. She had no job during the five preceding years, and had been fired by a conservative organization.
O’Donnell declined interview requests from Meet The Press, This Week and the state’s largest newspaper, which other candidates would have jumped at. O’Donnell knew she would lose in a landslide, and kept one third (over $1 million) of her campaign budget.
Castle would have been one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate, but his victory would have helped the conservative cause. A GOP Senate means key conservatives are now committee chairmen.
Moderate Republicans have voted against the GOP, but it rarely happens when their votes are needed. They usually vote against the GOP when it does not matter. Senators Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK) and Kirk (IL) are all moderates, and it is difficult to elect a conservative in Illinois, Maine, Delaware and other blue states.
There are now 54 Senate Republicans but 60 votes are need to break a filibuster. The moderates almost always vote with the GOP leadership on procedural issues such as stopping a filibuster. Moderate Scott Brown’s 2010 election ended the Democratic 60-seat supermajority, and the immediate result was the demise of the Obamacare public option, as well as the cap and trade national energy tax.
Professor Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA Law School says, “Reagan successfully rebranded the conservative movement as one with a big tent. Why exclusionists want to turn it into a small tent movement puzzles me. The US is a center-right country, with at most maybe 35% ideological conservatives, and a lot of them want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare! By letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, the exclusionists are ensuring Themselves of a pure minority. It makes for good talk radio, but it’s a lousy electoral strategy.”
Delaware is a blue state that Obama carried by 25% in 2008, and 19% in 2012. Castle was a former two term Governor and had won 12 statewide elections. In the pre-primary polls, he was winning Vice President Joe Biden’s old Senate seat in the general election by an average of 17%.
Social conservatives had good reasons to oppose Castle, but he was excellent on national security issues. He supported the U.S. role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and voted for the Patriot Act and other war on terror measures.
According to National Journal, Castle had a perfect 100 percent GOP support score on foreign policy, national security, trade and international economic issues.
He described himself as an economic conservative. As Governor, he cut income taxes three times, balanced eight state budgets, and noted, “My business friendly policies created tens of thousands of new jobs.”
Castle said, “I am a fiscal conservative and I always have been. I have a proven record of fighting higher taxes,regulations and out-of-control spending.”
Castle also had a high profile role on some of the conservative movements signature issues such as welfare reform, the Balanced Budget Act.
After O’Donnell won the primary, the polls shifted by an amazing 34%, and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) defeated her by 17%. His ACU rating for the past four years is 2%. Castle had a 60% rating.
Gregg Hilton spent two decades as the Executive Director of the American Security Council. He is the former Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Fund, Director of Public Affairs for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican National Committee’s liaison to the White House Political Affairs Office during the Reagan Administration. He has authored columns for Human Events, and the Washington Post called him one of the eight leading activists in the New Right. A prolific fundraiser, Gregg lives in Washington, D.C.