Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus ‘Despondent’ Over Castle’s Defeat and O’Donnell’s ‘Scary’ Win

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus raced to her keyboard on Tuesday night to express her upset with the result of the Republican Senate primary in Delaware. In “Why Christine O'Donnell's victory is scary,” posted at 10:15 PM EDT on the paper’s “PostPartisan” blog for its opinion writers, she seemed more scared by Mike Castle’s defeat than by Christine O’Donnell’s win.

While Democrats may be “delighted” by the prospect of facing O’Donnell, Marcus declared: “I’m despondent.” But not, of course, because it means the Democratic candidate will beat O’Donnell. No, the Post’s deputy national editor from 1999 to 2002 (bio) is “despondent” because it ends her dream of “a more robust cadre of moderate Republicans” in the Senate and the “ripple effect” means incumbent Republicans “will be that much more watchful of protecting their right flank,” which will cause them to “be that much less likely to take a political risk in the direction of bipartisanship.” Horrors.

Indeed, Marcus feared “a bolstered Jim DeMint caucus, following the disturbingly powerful junior senator from South Carolina: Sharron Angle (Nev.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Ken Buck (Colo.) -- plus the two other incumbent-slayers of the primary season, Mike Lee in Utah and in Joe Miller in Alaska. Scary.

An excerpt from her post:
Partisan Democrats are delighted about Christine O'Donnell's Republican primary victory over Rep. Mike Castle in the race for the open Delaware Senate seat.

I’m despondent.

From the Democratic point of view, the defeat of the moderate, well-known Castle turns what had looked to be a lost cause into a likely win....So the folks who focus on electing Democrats and keeping a Democratic majority can't be blamed for breaking out the champagne over O'Donnell's win.

Not me, for two reasons.

First, I had thought the silver lining of this election year might be to produce a Senate with a more robust cadre of moderate Republicans. That caucus has pretty much dwindled to the two senators from Maine, with very occasional company from colleagues such as Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and departing Ohio Sen. George Voinovich. It's awfully hard for a caucus of two to break with the party....

There is strength in numbers, and you could imagine a bolstered group of (at least relative) moderates made up of the likes of Castle, Carly Fiorina (Calif.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) or Dino Rossi (Wash.)

Now, it's as plausible to envision a bolstered Jim DeMint caucus, following the disturbingly powerful junior senator from South Carolina: Sharron Angle (Nev.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Ken Buck (Colo.) -- plus the two other incumbent-slayers of the primary season, Mike Lee in Utah and in Joe Miller in Alaska. Scary.

But not as scary as reason number two: the ripple effect of victories such as O'Donnell's on other Republican lawmakers. Republican members of Congress look at races such as those in Utah, Alaska and now Delaware and think: There but for the grace of the Tea Party go I. They will be that much more watchful of protecting their right flank against a primary challenge. They will be that much less likely to take a political risk in the direction of bipartisanship....
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center