08.31.2010 0

Primaries Work as Establishment is Uprooted

  • On: 09/01/2010 20:40:57
  • In: Elections
  • By Robert Romano

    Now that the Alaskan Libertarian Party has explicitly voted not to nominate Senator Lisa Murkowski, her hopes of appearing on the ballot in November have been dashed. Republican voters too have rejected her, handing the GOP Senate nomination to the relatively unknown Joe Miller. It’s also too late to run as an Independent. Short of a write-in campaign, which would almost certainly fail, she’s out of options.

    Which leaves Murkowski with a choice. Does she back Miller or not? How she chooses will determine whether Murkowski is a team player, willing to respect the primary process, or a sore loser who cares more about her seat of power than the greater good.

    Certainly, that she conceded when the outcome was clear may appear to be a good sign, but she fell short of endorsing Miller. Apparently, she also actively sought the Libertarian nomination immediately upon losing, which is not a good sign. Had the Libertarians agreed to drop their own candidate, Frederick Haase, she would now be on the ballot.

    What’s a primary for anyway? Or a political party for that matter? What good is the will of the electorate if it is not heeded? When a party becomes merely a vehicle to advance the careers of the powerful, and not a vehicle to advance the shared principles of a constituency, it is time to seriously reconsider the state of the political establishment that rules in Washington.

    Murkowski would do well to consider the example of Governor Charlie Crist in Florida, whose own campaign against Republican Marco Rubio foundered earlier this year. Rather than lose the primary, Crist instead chose to run as an Independent. Now, no one trusts him, and trails Rubio by 10 points in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.

    Crist cared more about taking the seat for himself than advancing any comprehensive philosophy of governing, as is evidenced by his switching positions on several key issues. He is the perfect example of a career politician who favors personal power over reform. He’s certainly not the first.

    Crist’s move mirrored that of Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who feared to run in the Republican primary against conservative favorite Pat Toomey. So he switched parties to Democrat. But, nobody trusted him, so he lost his primary battle to Congressman Joe Sestak.

    Even when Toomey lost to Specter for the party’s nomination in 2004, he respected the primary process, and endorsed Specter for Senate against his Democrat opponent the same night he lost in the primary.

    Now Toomey appears poised to take the seat for himself against Sestak, and it appears that his patience paid off. He leads by six points, according to Rasmussen.

    The message? Voters don’t like a sore loser. Even if all Murkowski cared about was advancing her career as a politician, she would do well to get behind Miller at this stage. Vociferous support today could help her later to win a bid for governor or one day be nominated for a cabinet secretary.

    Not all ousted Republicans have chosen the path of Crist and Specter, thankfully. Take the case of Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. He was ultimately overthrown in a state party convention by Mike Lee, but then he magnanimously endorsed Lee. And now, Lee is cruising to any easy win.

    It’s an example that Murkowski would do well to follow.

    It is time for establishment Republicans to respect the will of the electorate. The pursuit of power over principle is why the GOP lost the majority in 2006 — and now it is time that the lessons of the past are learned.

    Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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