Delaware Tea Party insurgent Christine O'Donnell stunned the Republican Party establishment last night with her Senate primary win over Representative Mike Castle. She's widely seen as a weaker candidate for the general election, which will diminish the GOP's chances at taking over the Senate. Nevertheless, her victory speaks to the strength of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party who endorsed her candidacy. Political pundits are forecasting a new power shift in the Republican hierarchy:
Tea Party Mentality Will Take Over GOP, writes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post: "Politicians are, by nature, a fearful species. But their nightmares became a lot more specific last night. The Tea Party, for all its unexpected successes, cannot topple every incumbent Republican in the country. But by toppling the right ones, it can make every incumbent Republican vote and speak and act with the Tea Party in mind. So though the Te Party isn't likely to send all that many of its own Republicans to Washington, the likely outcome of last night's primaries is that the Tea Party takes over the Republicans who are already in Washington, and don't want to be sent home."
- O'Donnell's Victory Evidence of a National Trend, writes Dan Balz at The Washington Post: "Her victory, which was almost unthinkable a few weeks ago, provided tea party and grass-roots activists one of their biggest victories of the year. But the defeat of Castle, a former governor and one of the most popular politicians in the state, jeopardized the GOP's once-high hopes of winning the Democratic-held seat in November's midterm election. O'Donnell is viewed as a far weaker candidate, and Democrats say she is too conservative for the state. But her victory was a reminder of the unpredictable forces at work in politics this year and the power and energy of the antiestablishment sentiment among voters nationwide that could be aimed at Democrats."
- Lots of GOP Soul-Searching Going On, writes Jonathan Martin at Politico: "The outcome prompted a round of deep Republican soul-searching about what it said about their party when a political pillar in Delaware like Rep. Mike Castle, a respected lawmaker who was considered a shoo-in for the Senate seat, could not even come within six points of defeating the controversial and still largely unknown O’Donnell."
- Rove Says O'Donnell Is Unelectable In an interview with Sean Hannity last night, Republican master strategist Karl Rove spoke disparagingly about O'Donnell"
- O'Donnell Bites Back, saying of Rove "It's a shame. He is the same so-called political guru that predicted I wasn't going to win. And we won, and we won big. So I think he is eating some humble pie and trying to restore his reputation."
- Tenacity and Voter Disenchantment Propelled O'Donnell to Victory, writes Jeff Zeleny at The New York Times: "Throughout the campaign, Ms. O’Donnell was dogged by reports — many of them generated by members of her own party — that she had trouble with personal finances, had fudged her educational history and was not fit for office. But Ms. O’Donnell continued to rebut, repudiate and push on, with a hefty dose of help from the Tea Party infrastructure and rank-and-file voters who were furious at Washington."
- Castle Won't Endorse Her, reports David Catanese at Politico. He speaks with a Castle aide who says O'Donnell "is a con artist who won by lying about Castle's positions and her own life. Out of state support was enough to pull her through yesterday so she can rely on it through November."
- Compassionate Conservatism Is Dead, writes Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice: "Tea party candidates have upset the Republican establishment. In an important sense, the GOP has now fully made the jump into a political party with a soul anchored in talk radio: sharing many of the views and speaking in the tone and sound bites of a Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity. The political pros who juggled policies with ideology and formulas on how best to win by appealing to diverse groups are being edged out by true believers who believe that he or she who doesn’t embrace enough of the agenda needs to take a hike out of the party. It’s the next logical step on an ongoing exodus of moderates from the GOP, some intentionally and others being shoved to the door."