It’s happened in the UK before, but not often: candidates splinter off from mainstream parties and end up fighting their former colleagues. Also, on occasion, a party’s workers won’t turn out to help their own candidates. Now it’s happening in the US state of Delaware, following the result of yesterday’s primary for the GOP Senate nomination.
This is the state represented in the Senate by Joe Biden before he became Vice President, but Republicans reckoned they had, in Mike Castle, a candidate capable of taking the seat. But Castle was challenged for the nomination by “Tea Party” Conservative Christine O’Donnell, who turned out the winner. Democrat Chris Coons now looks the more likely victor come November.
Why so? Well, mainstream GOP supporters, and more importantly party workers, don’t support the O’Donnell candidacy, and won’t work for her election. She claims to be able to win the race without them, but that may be a big ask: even Karl Rove is sceptical. The Republican state chairman says O’Donnell “could not be elected dogcatcher”. Ouch.
And that is utterly perverse: the “Tea Party”, a movement which might be thought of as bolstering the GOP, turns out to have the potential to split its vote and let in a Democrat – just at the time when politicians of all stripes agree that the Dems are vulnerable. Were they to lose control of Congress, the remainder of Barack Obama’s term could be a lot rockier than his first two years.
But if the Democrats hold on to the House, the infighting might really kick off within the GOP. As Ronnie might have said after last night’s result in Delaware, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
[UPDATE: This post has also featured on Liberal Conspiracy. My thanks as ever to Sunny Hundal]