Contesting Leftists in Democrat Primaries
By Bruce Walker
February 6, 2012
Last September I argued that it is strategically important that conservatives not simply surrender the Democrat Party to the left. While it is unlikely that a conservative could win the Democrat presidential nomination, conservatives could win the Democrat primary for other offices in conservative states.
There are many states with open primaries, in which Democrats can vote for Republicans and Republicans can vote for Democrats. In half of the states, anyone can vote in the Democrat primary (Republicans have slightly fewer open primaries.) If a conservative runs for the Democrat nomination, then conservatives of all partisan affiliations can unite behind him.
The mere presence of a moderately well funded conservative candidate running in the Democrat primary will force leftists to stay home and not vote in their enemy’s primary or to risk having a conservative win the Democrat primary. Until now, the left has had a free ride in the presidential selection process.
In some very conservative states, a conservative could actually win the Democrat primary, particularly if there was a divided field of leftist Democrats. While some might dismiss polls which show that conservatives outnumber liberals in every single state of the union., this ideological lopsidedness is based upon self-identification, which means that attacking a Democrat contender as ‘too conservative,” when more people in the state call themselves conservative than liberal, would be hard work.
This sort of conservative alternative, if taken to the Democrat convention, could prevent the totalitarian cohesion which the left requires to campaign effectively. A core of conservative delegates – say 25% of the total – could vote “no” on platform issues, demand the right to have a speaker at the convention, hold long “spontaneous” demonstrations when their candidate was nominated, and refuse to make the nomination unanimous. That would carry into the general election a message that the Democrat nominee was considered too leftist by many Democrats.
It is interesting what might have happened if Ron Paul had chosen to run for the Democrat nomination instead of the Republican nomination. He is appealing to many anti-war Democrats and the Paul campaign is openly seeking Democrats and independents in states which allow voters to choose either party in the primary. Indeed, Public Policy Polling in Iowa indicated that Paul was cleaning up with Democrats, independents and young voters.
The intention to run conservatives against leftists in Democrat primaries also opens the door to running minorities who can force leftists into very uncomfortable contortions. Consider, for example, if Herman Cain had run against Obama in the Democrat primaries? Cain could attack Obama on policy issues without either partisan or racial attacks to deflect those attacks.
Conservatives could have recruited a Hispanic woman with exemplary experience and character to challenge Obama, and might do so in future Democrat nominations. Or conservatives might recruit an Asian – Chinese, Korean, Indian or other minority whose hard work ethic have made those groups successful. Forcing Democrats to show disdain for some minorities while favoring others would corrode the grand minorities theme of leftist electoral politics.
There is also the chance of attacking the ethics of Democrats from within the Democrat primary and caucus process. In this election cycle, a conservative contesting Obama in the Democrat primaries could raise Solyndra, Operation Fast and Furious, and similar highly dubious conduct. If questions were loudly raised within the Democrat primary process, it would be hard to dismiss these as “partisan rhetoric.” In fact, the conservative challenger could insist that Obama answer questions to Democrat voters because, if Obama did not, then Republicans might hobble him in the general election.
On occasion, the ethical sewage which is standard Democrat politics actually destroys the candidacy of a particular state candidate. Robert Torricelli in 2002, for example, ran unopposed to in the Democrat primary for his New Jersey Senate seat. After he won, his poll numbers plummeted. Democrat leaders forced him to withdraw and they replaced him with Frank Lautenberg. If Torricelli had faced a conservative opponent in the primary, then that opponent, not a selected leftist, would have been the nominee.
What if Torricelli had won only after a spirited primary challenge from a conservative? Democrats might be forced to either keep their lawful nominee or have the candidate who fought him in the primary, a conservative, take his place. Given the Democrat propensity for ghastly behavior – Blagoyovich, Spitzer, Weiner, and Wu – should not we always have a principled and formal primary opponent to be the Democrat nominee if scandal destroys an incumbent Democrat?
If we want to win the battle for the soul of America , then we should confront the left in every battle we can. That includes, especially, the selection of Democrat nominees. Indeed, once we make radical leftism costly in the Democrat Party, we begin to really win the battle for the soul of America .
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.