Shelley Capito Isn't The Only Conservative Being Targeted By Lunatic Fringe Teabaggers
West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a career-long tool of the mining industry, has already announced that she's running for the West Virginia Senate seat currently held by Jay Rockefeller in redder and redder West Virginia. (Rockefeller, who will be 77 in 2014 has been long thought to be on the verge of announcing his retirement.) The Tea Party and the far right extremists in the GOP seem unhappy with Capito's announcement.
Interestingly, Capito's ProgressivePunch vote score for the 2011-12 congressional session is identical with defeated Tea Party fave Allen West's (4.76 out of 100). And 107 Republicans have had more progressive voting records this session, including Tea Party favorites Ron Paul (TX-35.94), Justin Amash (MI-26.57), Tom McClintock (CA-17.29), Raul Labrador (ID-12.11), Mick Mulvaney (SC-11.78) who is being pushed by teabaggers to challenge Lindsey Graham, Paul Broun (GA-11.42), who is being pushed by John Birchers to challenge Saxby Chambliss, Joe Walsh (IL-10.77), Jason Chaffetz (UT-9.30), Rob Bishop (UT-7.57), Connie Mack (FL-7.49), Tim Huelskamp (KS-7.04), Tea Party Queen Michele Bachmann (MN-6.77), and even Louie Gohmert (TX-6.75)!
All the crazy extremist groups that helped the Democrats win difficult Senate races by winning primaries for out-of-the-mainstream fanatics like Christine O'Donnell (DE), Ken Buck (CO), Todd Akin (MO), Richard Mourdock (IN) and Sharron Angle (NV) are already attacking Capito as "too liberal." Radical right Club for Growth and Jim DeMint's lunatic fringe group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, are leading the way. DeMint's Executive Director, Matt Hoskins: "Congresswoman Capito is not someone we can endorse because her spending record in the House is too liberal. If Republicans in West Virginia want to save their country, they need to find another candidate with the courage to say ‘no’ to more spending and debt.”
Standing history on its head, Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller, claimed that “Our point is simply that the formula of party bosses picking big-government Republican nominees has not proven successful.” The Club blames the GOP bosses for nominating Establishment hacks who lost this year-- Rick Berg (ND), Heather Wilson (NM) and Denny Rehberg (MT).
When PPP surveyed West Virginia in October, 2011, they found Rockefeller very vulnerable, particularly to Capito:
2012's not looking great for West Virginia Republicans on the picking up a Senate seat front but 2014 might provide more promise. Jay Rockefeller's approval rating is 47/41, ok numbers but unimpressive compared to Manchin. And he would trail in a potential bout with Capito by a 48-44 margin. Rockefeller does worse against Capito than Manchin does across the board but the disparity is particularly large with GOP voters-- they support Capito by only a 43 point margin over Manchin (64-21), but would give her a 68 point advantage over Rockefeller (80-12). Rockefeller and Manchin are pretty similarly popular with Democrats but when it comes to independents/Republicans the disparity is wide.Manchin, who voted with Republicans more frequently than any Senate Democrat other than now retiring Ben Nelson, won reelection over teabaagger John Raese 61-36%. On the same day, Obama was obliterated by Romney by a similar margin, 62-35%. Astoundingly, Obama lost every single county in the state, even the most Democratic counties. Machin won every county but 3, Grant, Preston and Doddridge.
Funny how the most popular Republican up for reelection anywhere in the country, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is especially hated by the radical right. If you watched the Rachel Maddow video above, you saw how wrong the clueless Beltway conventional wisdom media types have the post-election, "chastened" GOP. If anything, the radicals who control the party, have been driven insane and are more radical and more extreme than ever! And yesterday TPM explained how the far right RINO hunters are out stalking mainstream conservatives again. "After two disappointing election cycles," wrote Benjy Sarlin, "Republican leaders demanded that conservative groups end their war on electable primary candidates or risk handing the Senate to the Democrats in 2014. This week, the groups delivered their reply: 'Nuts!'”
The West Virginia race is exactly the kind of juicy pickup opportunity that Republicans blew in recent cycles by nominating subpar candidates. Already some in the party are feeling déjà vu.Imagine lunatic fringe candidates like John Bircher Paul Broun or anti-Choice sociopath Karen Handel unseating arch conservative Saxby Chambliss on Georgia. Or Joe "You Lie" Wilson taking on prominent GOP closet case Lindsay Graham. And speaking of Republican closet cases, Miss McConnell is likely to draw a teabaggy opponent as well. If Susan Collins doesn't retire-- she promised she would-- she will certainly have some crazed teabagger running against her in the Maine GOP primary. It's important for Democrats to have viable candidates lined up... just in case. No one thought Blue Dog Joe Donnelly would have any chance to beat Richard Lugar, but right-wing radicals saved his career by replacing Lugar with Mourdock. It's a model teabaggers and neo-fascists intend to replicate everywhere.
“The last time Republicans elected a senator in West Virginia was 1956,” former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) told TPM. Davis, who used to char the NRCC, said, “Shelley Moore Capito is their only hope of electing a Republican senator and a conservative this cycle. So the fact that you have some groups opposing her I think explains why we are in the minority in the Senate.”
Conrad Lucas, chair of the West Virginia GOP, told TPM that while the state party wouldn’t interfere with the primaries, Capito was an unambiguous recruiting coup.
“She’s clearly the most popular Republican in the state-- by far-- and is a very strong candidate,” Lucas said. He added that her critics on the right were “not representative of West Virginia” where Capito’s reputation within the party is sterling.
Both the NRSC and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads are considering a more active rule in 2014 to protect their favored candidates against extreme or inexperienced primary challengers. Capito could be a test case for this new approach if her critics on the right recruit a challenger.
The GOP’s RINO hunters-- the enforcers of ideological purity who have helped drive out more perhaps general election-friendly Republican candidates in past cycles-- say they’re ready to go to war with Rove and the NRSC if necessary.
“Going forward, our focus will be on supporting good candidates and of course, we hope that we are not going against the NRSC or any other groups involved in the election process,” Amy Kremer, chair of Tea Party Express, told TPM. “However, we will not waiver on our principles in choosing candidates to support and endorse.”
Tea Party Express has a history of upsetting the Republican establishment. The group backed Christine O’Donnell’s Delaware Senate run in 2010 and got behind Richard Mourdock’s primary challenge of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) this year. Kremer said it was “way too early to make any decisions on what races we will be involved in during the 2014 cycle,” and declined to weigh in on Capito other than to say she was “aware” Capito had launched her campaign.
Social conservatives say they’re ready to fight Republican attempts to ostracize them after the 2012 cycle as well. Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) became the latest top Republican to express concerns over the social issue debate, saying the GOP should “leave the issue alone” when it comes to abortion rights.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, told TPM her side isn’t going to take talk like McCain’s sitting down. If social conservatives need to fight off the Republican establishment in a brutal primary, so be it. Dannenfelser blames the problems the GOP had with its social message on fear among Republican candidates when it came to talking about abortion and other topics. Had Republicans been more proactive on social issues, they never would have been stuck “on the defensive,” she said. Dannenfelser said her group will go to war with Republicans who try to back candidates unwilling to engage on social issues.
“To the extend that they want to repeat what we just saw in this election, yes, we will be insisting ‘do not proclaim a truce ahead of the [general] election again.’ That’s what we just saw,” she said. “So if the truce gets proclaimed again then, yes, there will be a very lively argument.”
In the days since Nov. 6, most of the focus has been on how the GOP needs to moderate in order to improve its performance in 2014 and beyond. But with Capito kicking off the next cycle with her announcement Monday, the conservative groups who’ve successfully dominated Republican politics recently made it clear they’re not going away without a fight.