Ed Kilgore

As a fellow Californian, I can certainly understand T.A. Frank’s disgust with last night’s California gubernatorial debate, which featured a continued preoccupation with two recent candidate “gaffes” (Meg Whitman’s relations with a Latina domestic worker who was illegally in the country, and an overheard comment by a Brown campaign staffer, in his boss’ presence, calling Whitman a “whore”).

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That Old 2007 Feeling

One intriguing thing about the Republican Party's "Pledge to America" is that it doesn't include that many goodies for the Tea Party—or, more precisely, that it concedes far more to the Tea Party in terms of rhetoric than actual policy. Here's the breakdown: The preamble and foreword are dominated by dog whistles and direct appeals aimed at the Tea Party movement.

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So you want to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012? Here’s a hot tip from 2008 nominee John McCain: Citing his own experience as the Republican nominee for president in 2008, McCain said the still-strong Republican presence in New Hampshire helped catapult his campaign toward the nomination.

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Jay Cost is one of those conservative political writers whom I’ve always respected for his interest in empirical analysis and reasoned debate. But in a Weekly Standard column published this week, which pushes back against Democratic efforts to highlight the growing radicalism of the GOP, he made a frankly offensive statement that strays from analysis to agitprop: At best, this strategy might help swing an odd election here and there to the Democrats—e.g. Delaware and (maybe) Nevada—and increase the historically low levels of Democratic enthusiasm by a point or two. But that's it.

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Abortion and the Tea Party

In most of the discussions of why Mike Castle lost the Republican Senate nomination in Delaware to the wacky conservative insurgent Christine O’Donnell, commentators emphasize that Castle crossed conservatives by voting for gun control, climate-change legislation, and TARP … as well as being pro-choice. In none of the analyses I've read has this last factor been emphasized, or treated as anything more significant than another indicator of his “moderation.” Ignoring abortion as an issue is an inveterate habit of the chattering classes, particularly on the progressive side of the aisle.

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Christine O’Donnell is not someone you’d expect to be a Republican nominee for a competitive U.S. Senate contest, particularly in the staid state of Delaware, and particularly as the choice of primary voters over Congressman Mike Castle, who up until yesterday had won twelve consecutive statewide races. O’Donnell is a recent newcomer to Delaware and, since arriving, has managed to get into trouble with her student loans, her taxes, her mortgage, and her job. She also unsuccessfully sued a conservative organization for gender discrimination.

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Among Tuesday’s primaries is a suddenly red-hot contest in usually mild-mannered Delaware, where Republicans have been counting on picking up Joe Biden’s old Senate seat since the day Congressman Mike Castle announced for the race. But now Castle is suddenly looking vulnerable to a right-wing uprising which, in turn, could make Democratic candidate Chris Coons the front-runner going into November.

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It’s still a close race, but the odds are that Washington, D.C., mayor Adrian Fenty will lose to D.C. Council chairman Vincent Gray in the dispositive Democratic primary next Tuesday.

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In most of the major competitive Republican primaries this year, three interrelated factors—money, ideology, and influential backers—have been on display in eyecatching ways. The political furies of 2010 have lured an unprecedented number of self-funding neophytes onto the ballot; Meg Whitman, Rick Scott, and Linda McMahon being just the most profligate examples. It’s the rare Republican primary where most, if not all candidates decline to call themselves “true conservatives” and impugn the ideological purity of their opponents.

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Last week a major brouhaha broke out in the chattering classes when Gallup reported a ten-point Republican lead in its tracking of the generic House ballot among registered voters, the highest GOP margin on this measure in Gallup history.

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