“Any Republican who you felt got a much-deserved licking?
“David Brooks: Oh yeah. I’m delighted that the country will not be plagued by Senators Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, and probably Joe Miller in Alaska. In a wave election a candidate has to beat the voters over the head with incompetence to lose, but these folks managed.”
“But privately, Republicans pointed specifically to DeMint’s decision to back unseasoned tea party conservatives, such as Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, over primary candidates with broader mainstream appeal as the reason the GOP missed a clean sweep of Congress.
“‘That part you absolutely cannot argue with,’ a veteran GOP operative said, adding that the weakness of these candidates forced the NRSC into spending precious resources in states where it should not have. ‘The Colorado [election] is an awfully, awfully big deal. If you nominate [Buck’s primary opponent] Jane Norton, it’s over in September and you don’t spend a dime,’ the operative said. But after DeMint and tea party activists helped Buck win the nomination, the NRSC and other outside groups were forced to ‘dump millions of dollars in the race and lose. That’s very significant.’
“DeMint dismissed the complaints. ‘I’m really not sure what they’re talking about. They said a conservative couldn’t win in Pennsylvania, and Pat Toomey won,’ he said, also pointing to Sens.-elect Marco Rubio in Florida and Mike Lee in Utah as candidates who were initially opposed by establishment Republicans but went on to win.'”
“Movement conservatives pointed the finger right back at the establishment, accusing the National Republican Senatorial Committee of squandering millions on a California race that wasn’t close at the expense of offering additional aid in places like Colorado, Nevada and Washington state, where Democratic Sen. Patty Murray holds a narrow lead as the votes continue to be counted.”…
“‘If you think what happened in Delaware is ‘a win’ for the Republican Party then we don’t have a snowball’s chance to win the White House,’ [Lindsey Graham] said. ‘If you think Delaware was a wake-up call for Republicans than we have shot at doing well for a long time.’…
“‘If the establishment is doing finger-pointing this morning it’s because their $8 million gamble in California didn’t pay off,’ jabbed a source close to DeMint. ‘That money could have been used in Colorado, Nevada, Washington and Alaska where the races were much looser and much more winnable. That was a huge fumble.’…
“DeMint’s actions have enraged many Republican senators, aides and consultants, many of whom were exchanging cutting emails about him late Tuesday and early Wednesday as it became clear the party would fall short in the Senate.”
“Asked if Tea Party voters should be more pragmatic in nominating more electable candidates during future elections, Jenny Beth Martin, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, took a swipe at the rival Tea Party Express.
“‘One thing that we’ve seen across the country is that in places where the Tea Party people were allowed to nominate their own nominees and were not influenced by top-down political organizations, such as Tea Party Express, the Republicans did win,’ Martin said at a Wednesday morning news conference in Washington, D.C.
“Mark Meckler, another national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, claimed ‘the grassroots were not allowed to speak’ in races where the Tea Party Express made endorsements. ‘An outside, top-down organization came in and chose a candidate for them,’ he said…
“‘We’re smiling tonight,’ [Tea Party Express spokesman Levi] Russell said by phone. He did, however, admit that ‘losing Nevada is disappointing because it is such an important race…but when we take a step back and look at what actually happened, there’s no question we completely changed the course of Washington politics.'”
“The Tea Party radicals had previously defeated better and more electable candidates: Mike Castle in Delaware, Sue Lowden in Nevada, Jane Norton in Colorado. Somehow the notion took hold that it was unprincipled and contemptible to support smarter candidates over stupid candidates, inclusive candidates over divisive candidates, experienced candidates over inexperienced, goverance-minded candidates over protest-vote candidates.
“That notion may have cost Republicans the Senate Tuesday night. It may cost much more in future, if Sarah Palin makes the run for the presidential nomination.
“So it needs to be pounded home: The radicals must not be allowed to claim the title of the real Republicans. They must not be allowed to dismiss the true electable, governing core of the party as ‘Republicans in Name Only.’ If anything, it’s the Tea Party radicals with their incessant threats to bolt and form a third party who deserve that name.”