This evening, in the state of Delaware somebody will win the GOP primary, and declare something like, “And now, I ask for all Republicans to unite behind my candidacy.” At that moment, across the state, across the blogosphere, and across the country you will hear supporters of the other candidate wholeheartedly and loudly respond, “[your favorite expletive here]!”
It’s hard to begrudge them. If you’re a Christine O’Donnell supporter, you will have just seen a woman who stands for you and your values absolutely trashed, six ways to Sunday by an opposing campaign, a state party, and a lot of voices who you once thought of as reliable allies. And for who? A fossil who voted the right way barely half the time?
If you’re a Mike Castle supporter, you will have just seen a man who’s spent his career serving Delaware – with nary a peep of serious objection from the state’s GOP grassroots – rejected for daring to deviate from conservative orthodoxy and the chances of a GOP majority in the Senate seem to go up in flames. You’ve watched the opposition misrepresent his record. And for who? A freelance publicist who has never held office before?
I’d like to say I see a good chance of reconciliation, but I would be lying. Everybody feels like they’ve been stabbed in the back. O’Donnell supporters feel like the establishment went after their candidate personally, trying to destroy her reputation. Castle supporters feel like they’ve been demonized for accepting a more moderate choice in a heavily Democratic state.
Unity? The last time Christine O’Donnell lost a primary, she ran as a write-in and won 5 times as many votes in November. What possible motivation does she have to end her campaign tonight? What, she might alienate the party establishment?
If there were six months until Election Day, there might be enough time to heal the wounds; time always does, if you have enough of it. I don’t like being characterized as some lackey for a “Ruling Class”, and I suspect Jeff Lord doesn’t like being called stupid. (I don’t like calling Jeff Lord stupid, either. It’s wrong for me to do that for a lot of reasons, high among them that it makes me sound like Mark Levin.) But sometime soon, Jeff and I will be pulling in the same direction on some other race or issue. (You know, presuming my Ruling Class masters let me.)
The question is, can Delaware Republicans who have invested so much time and passion into this primary fight rise above it? Do they think that stopping Chris Coons is important enough to start laboring to help a candidate they probably can’t stand at this moment?
The opponent in November once described himself as “a bearded Marxist.” Since then, he’s lost he beard. Mike Castle might not do enough for conservatives, and Christine O’Donnell might not always represent them well. But the clean-shaven Marxist will never help a conservative cause unless it’s by accident.