Politico has an article about the Republican party trying to find a way to prevent more candidates like Todd Akin from winning Senate primaries, which they rightly recognize has prevented them from taking control of that chamber in the last two elections.
In the wake of the GOP’s Election Day beatdown, influential Republican senators say enough’s enough: Party leaders need to put the kibosh on the kind of savage primaries that yielded candidates like Akin — and crippled Republican prospects of taking the Senate in two straight election cycles.
It’s time, they say, for Washington bosses to be more assertive about recruiting and then defending promising candidates. They argue that it’s critical to start enlisting local conservative activists as allies and to ease the tea party versus Washington dynamic that’s wreaked havoc on the party.
All easier said than done, of course. Tea party types have relished showing the chosen candidates of the Washington establishment a thing or two — and it’s hard to see them laying down arms overnight. But after a sure-bet election in 2012 turned into an electoral disaster, Republicans say resolving their primary problem is, well, their primary problem.
The Republicans might well have won control of the Senate in 2010 if they hadn’t run such whacko candidates in key races. Harry Reid was likely to lose in Nevada to a sane Republican candidate. Even after winning the Republican primary, Sharron Angle had an 11-point lead over him. But she turned out to be downright bugnutty, suggesting, for example, that the town of Frankford, Texas had been taken over by Sharia law. The problem? There was no such town, it had been annexed by Dallas in the 70s. And Dallas sure as hell isn’t ruled by Sharia law.
In Delaware, the Republicans were a huge favorite to win a Senate seat from that state, with Rep. Mike Gravel, a moderate, widely expected to win the seat. But Christine O’Donnell won and turned out to be so loopy that even other Republicans distanced themselves from her.
The same thing happened in Colorado, where Republican Ken Buck lost a close election to Michael Bennet after a campaign in which he came out against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It was also revealed that he refused to prosecute a rape case in which the transcripts showed the suspect admitting to having raped the victim. And he famously said that the people of Colorado should vote for him because, unlike his female opponent, he didn’t wear high heels.
The same thing happened this year, with Akin and Richard Mourdock losing seats that a saner Republican candidate would almost certainly have won in Missouri and Indiana respectively. This is part of the ongoing battle within the Republican party as they try to wiggle their way out of the dilemma of trying to hold on to the far right Tea Party types without losing everyone but them.