GOP battles Tea Party in Delaware

Conservative Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell faces opposition from the Republican establishment's Mike Castle

Topics: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Tea Parties, U.S. Senate, Christine O'Donnell,

Arms linked, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell and her conservative backers kick up their heels and clap to the strains of an original song with lyrics befitting a tea party.

“Look out Washington, D.C., ’cause we are on a roll and we’re rocking across this country with a message to be told.”

It’s a tune that’s unnerving the Republican establishment in Delaware, which fears being felled by swift kicks from O’Donnell — and tea partiers.

Not long after tea party-backed Joe Miller stunned Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Republican establishment is furiously trying to avoid a similar outcome in the Delaware primary on Tuesday. Republican leaders, top strategists and even the Delaware state GOP chairman have taken the unusual step of openly working to defeat O’Donnell and ensure the nomination of their preferred candidate, nine-term Rep. Mike Castle.

Republicans, who have an outside chance of capturing the majority in the Senate in November, see Castle as their best chance of winning the seat long held by Vice President Joe Biden. The moderate Castle is a former governor and has been the state’s lone congressman since 1993.

But O’Donnell, who has lost twice in statewide races, won’t be cowed.

“We cannot elect any more liberals to Washington, D.C., especially ones who wear the banner of being a Republican. It is an honor to be a Republican,” she told supporters.

Establishment Republicans have been relentless, calling O’Donnell unelectable, a fraud and a liar. But in a challenge to the GOP leadership and in a boost to O’Donnell, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina just came out with an endorsement saying she will “stand strong for the principles of freedom.”

This weekend, Delaware Republicans set about knocking on 10,000 doors, making tens of thousands of phone calls and flooding mailboxes with fliers that explain both candidates’ records. In a primary that could draw just 30,000 voters, party officials are going all-in to defend one of their top recruits and discredit O’Donnell.

“She’s not a viable candidate for any office in the state of Delaware,” said the state party chairman, Tom Ross, who is backing Castle. “She could not be elected dog catcher.”

State GOP officials have done everything in their power to take down O’Donnell. For example:



–After a conservative radio host took O’Donnell to task over incorrect claims she won two counties during her 2008 Senate bid against Biden — in fact, she won none of the state’s three counties — GOP officials gleefully shared the audio.

–When a New Jersey university last week finally awarded O’Donnell a degree she had claimed for 21 years, Republicans called it the latest example of her exaggerations.

–O’Donnell’s financial reports show donors are picking up her rent and utilities at a condo that doubles as a campaign headquarters. Republicans hasten to note O’Donnell’s dire personal finances that include threats of liens, foreclosures and an Internal Revenue Service audit. Republicans then questioned O’Donnell’s ability to handle tax dollars, and wondered about the marketing consultant’s reporting just $5,800 in income during a 15-month period.

–The Delaware Republican Party on Thursday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing O’Donnell and the Tea Party Express of violating FEC rules that restrict coordination between candidates and outside political organizations. The complaint, filed for the party by campaign finance lawyer and former FEC chairman Michael Toner, states that the Tea Party Express solicited donors to contribute to O’Donnell and that O’Donnell and the group worked jointly on advertising, breaching agency rules.

“It is a shame the party is doing this,” O’Donnell said after a rollicking dusk rally across from the Delaware Capitol this past week. “Because I believe that we have the right principles to win this election.”

O’Donnell and her supporters just as eagerly point to Castle’s votes in support of the 2008 Wall Street bailouts, which were championed by Republican President George W. Bush, and Castle’s support for climate change legislation that has stalled in Congress. Those votes are immensely unpopular with conservative Republican voters.

“He’s getting harder and harder to support,” said Carl Williams, a retiree from Camden. “Castle should get off the Republican ticket. He says he’s a Republican, but he’s not a conservative.”

Others say Castle sides too often with Democrats; in a mailing, O’Donnell calls him “the most liberal Republican in Congress.”

“He’s gone too far left,” said Bob Haller, a retiree who carried a sign saying “Castle Voted Against God in Our Pledge of Allegiance.”

“He’s become nothing but a rubber stamp,” he said.

So in the nation’s first state, the contest has become a battle between a conservative activist’s fervent supporters versus Republican heavyweights. The race is shaping up to be a measure of the anti-establishment sentiment that views incumbency as a handicap and political inexperience as a valued quality.

The California-based Tea Party Express has pledged $250,000 to help bolster the cash-strapped O’Donnell. It’s not clear they will reach that goal; so far, officials have disclosed less than $150,000 in federal elections filings.

In campaign reports filed on Aug. 25, O’Donnell reported raising about $260,000 for her bid and had about $20,000 in the campaign bank account. Castle had raised $3.2 million and had $2.6 million cash on hand, which is why he has been able to spend freely on mail and television ads criticizing his rival.

The winner of the Republican nomination will face county executive Chris Coons. Unlike Republican-leaning Alaska, the Democratic nominee would have a better shot at the seat against O’Donnell, who lost to Biden 65-35 percent in 2008.

Hard feelings among Republican voters could linger well past Nov. 2.

“It angers me. I don’t think no Republican should really go after any Republican,” said Bill Valentine, who’s from Hockessin.

He’s not alone.

Sarah Palin, whose endorsements have proved beneficial to other conservative candidates, announced Thursday that she is backing O’Donnell, hoping again to thwart insiders’ calculations as she did in Alaska with Miller.

“She understands the politics of personal destruction,” O’Donnell said of Palin, “and I think that’s why she got involved.”

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>