The tea party has been cancelled. Well, at least in Indiana, where the only thing that kept the Republican Party from “shaking up Washington” last night was self-imploding ambition and arrogance.
In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate race, Dan Coats limped across the finish line with just under 40%, while Indiana state senator Marlin “I’m from a farm” Stutzman finished with 29%, former Congressman John "keep a nuke in your garage" Hostettler got 22%, and newbies Don Bates, Jr. and Richard "over my dead body" Behney picked up 4.5% and 4.2% respectively.
Hostettler was directly critical of Coats’ voting record on guns and "radical" Supreme Court Justices. Stutzman was as critical, though he used proxies to essentially say Coats was conservativism’s aged, Benedict Arnold. Had either Hostettler or Stutzman stepped aside, I am reasonably confident Dan Coats would not be the GOP candidate. (To the GOP voters, I say, “Thank you” for giving my party the opponent who ensures that the NRA will endorse Democrat Brad Ellsworth).
In the GOP’s 5th district free-for-all, Congressman Dan Burton rebuffed six opponents with an 29.7%, a jaw-droppingly anemic number for an incumbent. Luke Messer got 27.6%, repeat candidate John McGoff got 18.8%, Mike Murphy got 8.9%, and Brose “Who am I, and Why Am I Here” McVey got 8.5%.
In this one, I know that if any of Burton's opponents had stepped aside, Burton would not have to miss congressional votes to play golf any more.
Each Burton opponent publicly said he needed to step aside, but not one could bring himself to “take one for the team.” By hanging on to the bitter end, each said, “I’m more important than moving our party forward.” I assure you they all concluded that if Burton won, they'd have a chance to take his place in the future, but if one of the other guys won, they'd kiss the seat goodbye for another thirty years.
For Messer, ambition worked. By amassing 27.6%, he put himself at the front of the cue to fill the seat if Burton retires, or if he still shows weak public support in two years (he will). Messer's strong showing will allow him to chisel off money and support from the others by saying, “Which one of us is most likely to win this thing? Look at the history.” In other words, even though arrogance kept Messer in, it’s at least understandable. Same with McGoff, who actually put his arrogance on display by talking about “earning” the right to serve, as if a credible but losing campaign makes him best qualified to serve in Congress.
But what about Mike Murphy and Brose McVey, the dynamic duo of spoilerism? I know they have friends because they each got over 9,000 votes. Why didn't anybody tell them they would become the political equivalent of the insanely off-key guys from the first week of American Idol? Were I in the GOP (shudder) and in the 5th District, I’d serve them both potato salad that I had sitting in the sun for a day or two at the next GOP club meeting. Dan Burton needs to send them free subscriptions of American Rifleman because they were his biggest contributors.
In sum, the GOP said for months that its party needed a new direction, but not one of its ballot leaders made the sacrifice necessary to deliver it.
What Tuesday certainly says about party strength in Marion County....
What Tuesday arguably says about prejudice in Indiana