"Moderates? I don't need no stinkin' moderates*," says South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, chairman of the NRSC:
"They told me we couldn't win in Pennsylvania with a conservative - Pat Toomey is ahead. They said we couldn't win in Florida with a conservative - Marco Rubio is ahead. They said Rand Paul couldn't be competitive in Kentucky - he's ahead," DeMint said, reeling off the names of conservative Senate candidates he has endorsed. "Everything they said has been wrong. I'm counting on them to be wrong in Delaware."
With the exception of Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey -- strong candidates that successfully tied themselves to the Tea Party in its early stages -- Jim DeMint's arch-conservative Senate recruits are incredibly weak candidates. If Sharon Angle were running in a normal election year with average economic growth and a 50/50 public, she would have little hope at beating a sitting incumbent and majority leader to boot. In a year like this, where the fundamentals favor Republicans at every level, recruiting risk-averse strong candidates should be easy -- it's why Mike Castle opted to give up his House seat for a Senate one.
Now it's true that most of these candidates owe their nominations to a hyper-ideological base, and obviously, the NRSC will support whomever carries the party torch. Still, elevating these candidates strikes me as a terrible idea in the longer term; assuming the world doesn't collapse or end by 2016, I doubt any of these folks will survive a re-election bid. Yes, a lot can happen in six years, but it's worth thinking about.
-- Jamelle Bouie
* Note: I made that quote up.