by John Hawkins | November 5, 2010 7:10 am
First off, let me give you a little history lesson. Before Sarah Palin or the Tea Parties made a big splash, Jim DeMint was on point in the Senate, fighting on behalf of conservatives. Time and time again, conservatives would be cheering themselves hoarse because of something DeMint was doing and yet, his staffers would be telling me that behind-the-scenes, he’d be catching hell for doing the right thing. Then along came Palin. A lot of the same people who hated DeMint, hated Palin. Next up were the Tea Parties and again, a certain element in the Republican Party wasn’t happy.
Why? There were a lot of reasons for it. Some Republicans aren’t really conservative and don’t like the idea of moving the party to the right. Other people in D.C. have a problem with the idea of the “conservative rabble” actually influencing events in D.C. Then there are careerists who don’t care about anything other than keeping a job. People like that tend to have a go-along-to-get-along attitude, like to take pork home, and don’t want to do anything that might draw the ire of the New York Times or Washington Post. To them, the “true believers” represent nothing but problems. Here they have people who want them to take courageous stands and they might face a primary if they don’t? How are they going to spend the next 40 years in D.C. doing that?
So, this is the backdrop against which the 2010 elections played out — and what happened? Well, conservatives were playing hard ball, fiscal conservatism was a big issue, and Palin, DeMint, and the Tea Partiers were everywhere. The result? It was the best election for the GOP since the forties. To a certain segment of the Republican Party, this was bad news. What if Palin runs for President? What if DeMint becomes even more influential? What if the Tea Partiers start pushing the GOP to the Right? What to do?
Easy. Anonymous whispering campaigns. Smear jobs. Working with their liberal pals in the press to go after those darn conservatives. Their key attack point has been the Senate, where the GOP underperformed. The spin is supposed to be that Palin, DeMint, and the Tea Partiers contributed nothing to this incredible wave election and in fact, they were a detriment because they cost the GOP the Senate!
As Erick Erickson noted, there’s a lot of misinformation being happily spread around about this topic:
1. Jim DeMint is being blamed for Sharron Angle’s nomination in Nevada. DeMint specifically did not endorse nor campaign for Sharron Angle prior to her nomination. Even here at RedState, I backed Danny Tarkanian.
2. Jim DeMint waited until the end of the Delaware Primary to endorse Christine O’Donnell and, frankly, I’d rather Chris Coons than Mike Castle. You may not think you would, but you would. But that is beside the point. O’Donnell was a week away from the primary and already ahead in the polls before DeMint said one word or spent one dime.
3. In Colorado, and this is the biggie, Ken Buck barely lost. The NRSC, shortly before the end of the Colorado Primary, sent millions to Jane Norton freeing her up to attack Ken Buck to be anti-women. Michael Bennet then picked up Norton’s campaign attacks and clobbered Buck.
4. Likewise in Colorado, neither the NRSC nor the RNC funded a GOTV program. They relied on the Republican Governor’s Association, which left Colorado when Dan Maes cratered.
5. Instead of pouring in additional resources to Washington, Colorado, etc., the NRSC sent $8 million to California in the last week for Carly Fiorina who lost by somewhere around ten points.
6. In Alaska, Jim DeMint did nothing to help or support or fund Joe Miller until after he became the Republican nominee. Not including the NRSC, Jim DeMint spent $727,000.00 to help Joe Miller. The rest of the Senate GOP members combined contributed roughly $25,000.00 each. [correction: I didn’t write that last sentence correctly and have updated]
7. GOP Senate candidates underperformed their polling at around 3% in most races. Why? Because the NRSC did not fund a ground game operation, nor did the RNC. They either left it to Karl Rove or Haley Barbour. There was not, as in past years, a mass exodus of GOP Hill Staffers from Washington to the ground in swing states.
Quite frankly, if the NRSC were run by competent people instead of John Cornyn and company, we probably would have picked up another 2-3 seats this cycle. The top priority of the Republican Party should be to get Cornyn out of there and clean that sorry organization out.
Setting that aside (sort of), I thought DeMint and Palin blew it by endorsing O’Donnell. But, what was a bigger factor in our losses: Losing that winnable seat in Delaware or underperforming across the board in Senate races, largely, I believe, because of a poor ground game? Ken Buck? He should have won. Dino Rossi in Washington? He should have won. Joe Miller might have pulled his race out with a top notch ground game, too, although Angle probably ended up losing by too large a margin.
Furthermore, if we’re going to point out races where Palin, DeMint, or the Tea Party blew it by backing bad candidates, then shouldn’t we look at the flip side of the coin? How’s the NRSC’s Charlie Crist endorsement looking today? How about Carly Fiorina? Meg Whitman? Dede Scozzafava? In every case, there were better candidates waiting in the wings that the GOP establishment didn’t favor for one reason or another. Why is that not just as big a deal as DeMint and Palin’s O’Donnell endorsement?
How is it that a fantastic candidate like Renee Ellmers didn’t get any help from the NRCC during the election cycle? Instead, they wrote her off as a sure loser and spent their time helping three other Republican candidates in North Carolina. In all fairness, all three of those other candidates ran competitive races and deserved the help, but it’s also worth noting that all of them lost, while Renee Ellmers won. Now, it looks like there is going to be a recount, it’s entirely possible the Democrats could be planning to pull a Franken as we speak, and the NRCC is passing on helping out with the legal fees. The RNC does deserve some credit for chipping in 10k (Renee could use some help from you, too), but where’s the NRCC? They’re nowhere to be found. But know who is stepping up to do the job that the National Republican Congressional Committee should be doing? Sarah Palin. For example, she tweeted this yesterday, “Mama Grizzly Renee Ellmers needs our help securing an honest and fair recount. Please donate here: http://is.gd/gIZAv.” Palin did more to help women get elected than anyone has ever done before or since, but she has legions of cowardly Republican staff pukes and consultants taking anonymous shots at her. Meanwhile, the NRCC is pouting with its thumb up its @ss because a candidate they didn’t support managed to win, and they’re getting a pass for it.
It’s also worth noting the fact that some of Palin’s Senate endorsements didn’t do so well is being widely trumpeted. But, if you look at all her endorsements, she did very well. Her Win-Loss-Undecided record so far per Conservatives4Palin? 52-21-9. That’s not too shabby, especially given that Palin didn’t just hand out endorsements in safe races.
What it all comes down to in the end is that Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, and most importantly, the Tea Party movement, may not have been perfect, but they all played an enormously positive role in the GOP’s historic gains on Tuesday. Yet, because they’re pulling the GOP to the right by demanding that the Republican Party stand for something again, they’re being attacked. In my book, being attacked by the people who ran the Republican Party into an iceberg during the Bush years should be a point of pride. So congrats to Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party: Sometimes, there’s no better testament to your effectiveness than having the right enemies.
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