The big news of the night is that Richard Mourdock absolutely eviscerated John Kerry and Vladimir Putin’s favorite Republican 60-40%, an unprecedented feat going up against a 35-year incumbent. On the other hand, it’s not surprising, and yet, it serves as a potent lesson for the Tea Party going forward.
Richard Mourdock wasn’t always this inexorable juggernaut. He was way behind in the polls for most of the year. It wasn’t until he began to show a little promise that the Club for Growth jumped in and dropped $1.5 million into the race. Then, in a self-fulfilling cycle of winners and losers, Mourdock began to evince the image of a winner. It became cool to support Mourdock. At that point, the entire movement united behind him, as even some usual suspects who aren’t with us in other races jumped aboard the Mourdock ship. The more Mourdock looked like a winner the more people supported him. Thus, the margin of victory is not that surprising.
We must learn a lesson from here. Yes, it takes a good candidate and a lot of money to win against establishment incumbents, and even challengers. But we won’t always have the luxury of waiting until the candidate is surging to jump in. In some races we must coalesce behind the conservative before he/she takes off, or else he will never take off. To that end, we have unfinished business to do.
In North Carolina CD-8, the Cantor/establishment candidate, Richard Hudson, only won 32% against Scott Keadle’s 22%. There will be a runoff. Keep in mind that the other lesser candidates in the race, who garnered 45% of the vote in total, enjoyed a lot of Tea Party support. Many of their supporters should go to Keadle. However, he needs our help. Keadle will stand with the most conservative members of Congress and lead a coalition to challenge leadership when necessary. This is a guy who is worth as much support as a Senate candidate.
In other good news, the North Carolina marriage amendment cruised to victory 61-39%. Yes, even one that bans gay civil unions. Don’t worry; it also bans father-son civil unions too, so I can’t form one with my 2-year old son who I love dearly. Some things in life just aren’t fair. Words and concepts have meaning, especially those that have been defined since the dawn of times.
In NC-11, conservative Mark Meadows, who was involved with the marriage amendment, fell just short of the 40% needed to avoid a runoff.
There are also other lessons to internalize here. In CD-2 and CD-6 Renee Ellmers and Howard Coble were kept to just 56% against no name candidates. In IN-8, mediocre incumbent Larry Bucshon was kept to 58% against his opponent who spent just $10,000. If we put up semi-viable candidates and work them hard, we can take out incumbents. But we can’t wait until the challenger is ahead.
With that said, let’s look forward to #hatchnext.
bonus election tidbits
- Keith Judd, a federal prisoner, garnered 40% of the vote against Obama in the West Virginia Democrat primary. That guy also won a number of counties.
- In the Wisconsin recall primaries, Scott Walker received as many votes as all the Democrat candidates combined, even though he had no competitive primary. That bodes well for us in the general recall election against Tom Barrett.