In a story today in the Daily Caller, Alex Pappis reports on a conversation he had with Matt Kibbe, a key operative in the FreedomWorks organization that was an important supporter of tea party candidates in 2010. Needless to say tea party conservatives aren’t very pleased with the apparent write-in victory of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. Here’s an excerpt from the Daily Caller story:
If Murkowski wins, Kibbe suggested that Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and the Republican leadership should find a way to punish her, perhaps through committee assignments, “for splitting the team in half” and running as an independent. Her decision to run as an independent is a dangerous precedent, Kibbe suggested, that could lead to Democratic victories in the future.
“If he doesn’t do that,” Kibbe said, “it strikes me that he’s sending a signal to Tea Partiers in 2012 that if they don’t like the results in the primaries, they might as well just run as an independent or Tea Party candidate.”
Kibbe often makes the argument that “it doesn’t make any sense to go third party because third party loses,” [sic] and the more practical way for Tea Party activists to get involved is through a “take over” of the GOP.
Let me respond to each paragraph above in turn:
1. Great. Punish Senator Murkowski and push her more firmly into the independent camp. I’d like that — it’s where she needs to be anyway and it will just make it easier for her. Also, since when have true-blue conservatives cared whether Democrats win elections when the Republican candidate is an infidel (moderate Republican). This is exemplified by the apparently prevalent conservative belief that “we are better off electing a Democrat than a Republican such as Mike Castle as Senator from Delaware”.
2. Great. Please do that. I would be delighted should hard-line conservatives leave the GOP and run as independents. Such a move would allow the Republican Party to abandon the right and move into the “center-right” space that happens to be where most of the American electorate sits. I could see a long string of wins for such a Republican Party at all levels of government.
3. I have to first do a little interpolating on this paragraph. I presume the sentiment being expressed by Mr. Kibbe is that since third parties usually lose, it is better for tea party conservatives to take over the Republican Party. This is nothing new. It is certainly what I’ve observed conservatives to have been doing for decades (1976 insurrection against moderate Gerald Ford by Reagan Republicans was my first exposure to this strategy). I’d go so far to say the battle for the GOP is over. The hard-line conservatives have won. Independents need to either form a third party comprised of independents and center-right “moderate” Republicans or be willing to run as independents a la Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. While it is clear that while write-in campaigns can prevail, it would make much more sense for centrist independents to found independent parties in their states so as to give centrist voters a choice between the left and the right.
So Mr. Kibbe, make up your mind. Personally, I hope you all choose Option #2. I would love to have my Republican Party back and so I think would most of the country.