A lot of high profile conservatives have been debating the O'Donnell/Castle primary for the Senate in Delaware, and their debate raises some important issues.
I have not followed the race closely enough to comment on the issues that have been raised about O'Donnell's character and honesty, which i think are an entirely separate matter. I only want to comment on the whole notion of choosing a nominee based on general election "electability."
I can understand the argument that even a liberal Republican is better than any Democrat. the first vote either one casts will be for the leadership from his own party. Here's where I jump off, though:
This race is for a Senate seat. In the House, the agenda in majority driven, and each member, proportionately, has less power due to both procedural rules and sheer numbers. In the Senate, every member is a minority of one, with the ability to torpedo major legislation, sometimes entirely singlehandedly.
If Mike Castle gets six years in the Senate, it is a virtual certainty he will be the one man to stop some major Republican initiative, probably before the 2012 election. That's what liberal Republicans do. And when they do, it is enormously destructive politically. It not only defeats that specific piece of legislation, but validates Democrat attacks on Republican "extremism." After all, it is so extreme, the party's own members are sticking out there necks to stop it.
The time for conservatives to support a Mike Castle is after he nominated, not before. It is only after he is nominated that he is the lesser of two evils. To argue that the general electorate is not conservative enough to support the more conservative candidate from the Republican primary ignores the fact that the first step towards changing that general electorate is for the Republicans themselves to move to the right. If they are a little bit nervous, prominent Conservatives don't need to be enablers for the moderates and squishes.