Steele, McConnell, & Cornyn: What Are They Doing About Jim Bunning?

One of the biggest problems the Republican Party has had over the last couple of cycles is that our “leaders” have failed to lead. They haven’t paid attention to what their supporters want, they haven’t reached out to the base, they haven’t enforced party discipline, and they haven’t had the cohones to take on problem members. We’ve seen some improvement in those areas, but obviously there is still a lot of work to do.

…Which brings me to Jim Bunning:

Jim Bunning is fine, albeit a bit gaffe-prone senator from the great state of Kentucky. He’s very conservative and I’d just as soon have him in the Senate as 90% of the people who are in there right now.

However, Jim Bunning is up for re-election in 2010 and despite the fact that McCain won Kentucky by 18 points, he is highly likely to lose.

Jim Bunning has a 28% approval rating in Kentucky and is currently on pace to lose to every possible Democratic contender.

Moreover, Bunning is a famously mediocre fundraiser. Here’s an excerpt from a story that came out a little more than a week ago,

Sen. Jim Bunning says he’s surveyed the fundraising landscape for his 2010 re-election bid and so far it’s “lousy.”

Still “if at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again,” Bunning told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday. His pronouncement came as candidates scramble to meet the March 31 quarterly campaign finance filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission.

Bunning’s campaign previously reported having about $150,000 on hand–far less than the $1 million to $2 million that political experts suggest Bunning would need by the end of the first quarter to mount a successful run.

Now, nobody can read the future. However, after looking at these numbers, it’s hard to conclude anything other than the fact Jim Bunning is highly likely to lose what should be a “gimmie” seat for the GOP in Kentucky.

At some point, the GOP leadership — Michael Steele, Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn (This isn’t Boehner’s problem since he runs the House) — need to step up to the plate while there is still time instead of standing by — as they did with Ted Stevens, for example, until it’s too late to do anything.

They need to talk with Bunning and point out the handwriting on the wall: no, we’re not going to campaign for you and we’re not going to give you any money. They need to start working behind the scenes to recruit a blue chip candidate who can run and win in 2010. They don’t need to publicly trash Bunning; they should start putting out some strong hints that they would prefer another candidate.

In other words, given the situation we have in the Senate, every seat really means a lot and we cannot afford to throw one away in Kentucky of all places. Maybe that doesn’t seem fair to Bunning, but losing that seat isn’t fair to the rest of us who need every vote we can get in the Senate.

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