Opinion

The future looks dim for Christine O’Donnell

Photo of Aaron Guerrero
Aaron Guerrero
Contributor

For Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party magic has worn off and the hard-hitting realities of a general election have set in.

Following her stunning victory over moderate Mike Castle in last month’s Republican primary, she seemed destined for political stardom. Her rapid rise within the Tea Party ranks instantly drew her favorable comparisons to Sarah Palin, based upon more than just the pair’s similar looks.

Like Palin, she was considered a fresh face; she enthused the GOP base in an almost supernatural way; and her folksy, perky appeal, while charming to core supporters, led detractors to levy brutal and over-the-top attacks.

O’Donnell’s bid always seemed like a long shot. But in a year with political winds as favorable to Republicans as this, even a staunch conservative like herself had a slim chance in liberal-tilting Delaware. If Scott Brown showed Republicans anything, it was that the dissatisfaction with President Obama reached far and wide.

But unlike other Tea Party candidates in states like Kentucky, Nevada, Florida and Colorado, O’Donnell has struggled to rally a skeptical GOP establishment to her side, both vocally and financially.

This past weekend she groused and grumbled on ABC’s “This Week” that the National Republican Senatorial Committee was giving her the cold shoulder when it came to coughing up the necessary dough for her to make a sizable dent in her Democratic opponent’s lead.

“The state party isn’t helping us,” O’Donnell said. “We’re hoping that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will help us, but it’s two and half weeks left and they’re not.”

The lack of monetary support coming from Beltway Republicans smacks of a lingering resentment from a hotly contested primary. There is a firm belief amongst establishment types that if the GOP falls a seat short of recapturing the Senate, the blame will rightfully belong to O’Donnell and her ill-advised venture to knock out the heavily favored and far more electable Castle.

Revelations about O’Donnell’s past life as a conservative activist during the general election hasn’t made it any easier for the establishment to open up its coffers. The now infamous clips of her appearances on Bill Maher’s “ Politically Incorrect” during the 1990s has lead to a steady stream of late-night fodder, with many comedians using her name as a punch-line for easy laughs.

Still, for all of her baggage, and the efforts of opponents to demonize her as a cartoonish figure, some Democrats, including those in the White House, refuse to dismiss her chances of beating Democrat Chris Coons

Just last week, President Obama and Vice President Biden made a visit to Delaware to stump for Coons. Though they never mentioned her name, their mere presence in the state spoke volumes about how seriously they regard her candidacy.

But why?

Because establishment money or not, O’Donnell has proven to be a moneymaker all on her own. She has successfully parlayed her Tea Party prowess into a healthy financial advantage over Coons; at the end of September, her financial haul was twice the size of his. Matched with the force of her personality and charisma along with an anything-goes election year, and it’s easy to see why the White House is intent on taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach to the race.

It will take a miraculous alignment of the political stars for O’Donnell to prevail in 13 days. All polls show a Mt. Rushmore type lead for Coons. Even more than numerical deficits, O’Donnell’s candidacy remains beset by quirky past statements and gaps of knowledge on key issues. With Coons riding so high this late in the game, O’Donnell’s bid has taken on an almost quixotic feel.

It’s a futile ending that seems greatly unbefitting of a once promising star.

Aaron Guerrero is a 2009 UC Davis graduate who majored in political science and minored in history. He formerly interned for Rep. Dan Lungren and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a freelance writer.

  • Newly Minted

    What a piece of drivel.

    These same “comedians” like serial sexual predator David Letterman were the same type of people who hated Ronald Reagan too.

    And who’s out of touch? Coons is for an elitist government control of the education of our kids. He thinks that religion should be banned from public life based on his radical views of the Constitution, yet he prefaces his remarks by starting with “I believe that…” So his religion is to be the government’s. But you can’t decide in your own area what your own kids will learn.

    Leftists love elitists. They love to defer to the knowledgeable few, presumably themselves. Case in point. They know that the Constitution does not say anything about a separation of church and state. Yet they pretend that it actually does just because the Supreme Court says so. So the words of the Constitution don’t matter because we have our select few who tell us what it REALLY means.

    People are livid. They used to be just pissed off. Now they’re livid. The media is so out of touch that they don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know if Christine O’Donnell can win but the polls are WAY, WAY off.

    If the race was a cake walk, would the Secular Messiah, may Allah have mercy on his soul, be in the sate? Would the clown known as Joe Biden be there too? They’re SCARED. They’re scared because people are seeing through their usual tricks.

    Folks we have one last chance for this generation and that chance does not end on Nov. 2. The first task is to transform the Republican party into a grass roots, small government party that has NOTHING to do with the beltway, cocktail party elites in the Republican party.

  • johno413

    O’Donnell supposedly is in fact supported by “known” staff recognized for their skill and competence. That she cannot still overcome the popularity deficit is a testament to her and her message. DE must not be a state that can change its political shades that fast and that far. Scott Brown ran only on a few issues that could be labeled “extreme” by the left, so to many independent voters here in MA, and there are many, he seemed like a balanced or moderate choice. O’Donnell leaves absolutely no wiggle room.

    The GOP machine won’t publicly support her because they would suffer nationwide when the Dems tied every election to her. However, the one thing that could be “seismic” and cause a last minute shift is if Castle changes his statement and actually comes out an endorses her, especially, say, in the last week. It will be late for Dem attacks to take much affect. Whether he staff can make that happen is questionable. However, if you are Castle, is having Coons in office REALLY better than O’Donnell???