Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mister No-Mojo RI-SEN

Okay, so I knew one half of story about the Laffey-Chafee (mmm, sounds like candy!) primary in Rhode Island: That in a near-perfect mirror image of the Lieberman-Lamont Democratic primary next door, a moderate incumbent is being targeted (and probably successfully) by an opponent on his less-moderate flank. But what I did not know was that the Republican senatorial re-election committee also decided to throw their full support behind the incumbent, despite his imperfect loyalty to their cause:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has pumped an astonishing $536,420.41 into the Rhode Island Senate race to date this year in an effort to rescue GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee from conservative primary challenger Steve Laffey. You can find the figure in the NRSC's filing today with the Federal Election Commission. And yet, as we reported below, Laffey is crushing Chafee in the latest poll. Yep, the NRSC is sinking huge sums of cash into a primary which they'd of course rather spend in GOP-versus-Dem races. But even those huge sums aren't working.
Despite these similarities, I can think of at least four significant differences between the two New England primaries - five if you count the enormous amount of money the Republicans spent to prop up Chafee (I'm pretty sure the DSCC didn't give Lieberman anywhere near that kind of money, but I couldn't find a dollar total on Google):

1) The challenger is being backed principally by the Club For Growth, an ultraconservative organization, rather than by netroots/grassroots/those venomous rabid crazy bloggers. In other words, he's not exactly "people-powered."

2) The other party has a viable candidate and a home-field advantage in the state, so there is a much higher probability of losing the seat outright.

3) The incumbent has not pledged to ignore the will of the primary voters.

4) The media doesn't care. No-one is wringing their hands over the Republican party's destructive jihad against ideological impurity. No-one even seems to be reporting on it.

To me, the first three (or four, if you count the NRSC funding) make the fourth (or fifth) ever so much worse. The incumbent is not thumbing his nose at the voters, while the challenger does not reflect a popular movement, is jeopardizing his party's Senate majority, and is wasting a whole bunch of their money as they attempt to beat him back. His challenge is far more damaging, and has far less legitimacy (by the pro-Lieberman hand-wringers' standards) than Lamont's, and yet no-one seems to mind.

So... the Republican-dominated punditocracy, whose presumed goal is to advance the fortunes of the Republican party, are outraged by Lamont's challenge and not Laffey's. I can only conclude that they believe such challenges against moderates are healthy and beneficial for the party involved.

Which kinda worries me, because, well, they're always wrong.

(hat-tip to Atrios)


geor3ge said...

Okay, so I knew one half of story about the Laffey-Chafee (mmm, sounds like candy!)

Laffy Chaffy Taffy!

Eli said...

It's a shame there's no Taft in the race, or that Chaffey isn't an ex-showgirl - then it could be Chaffee-Taffy Laffey.

Or something...