Friday, May 07, 2010

Bennett (Apparently) Bites The Dust

This is not your father's Oldsmobile. So went the advertising campaign (video below) of one of General Motor's divisions in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

And this is not your father's Republican Party. Less so, your grandfather's Republican Party. It is not even Ronald Reagan's Republican Party. Reporting on one of the worst-kept secrets of recent American politics, Chris Cilizza explains

Utah Sen. Bob Bennett lost his bid to be nominated for a fourth term Saturday, defeated at the state Republican Party convention amid a strong conservative sentiment that threatens to unseat other establishment-backed Republicans in the months to come.

Bennett, who had spent the past two decades as a respected insider in the Senate, came under fire in recent months for what some claimed were his insufficient conservative bona fides.

Bennett's critics cited his vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as well as his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee -- both symbols, conservatives said, of his lack of commitment to shrinking the size of government.

While state Republicans had expressed uneasiness with Bennett, it was the DC-based Club for Growth that helped crystallize that opposition. The Club spent more than $200,000 on a combination of television ads, direct mail pieces and phone calls designed to influence the 3,500 (or so) delegates who attended Saturday's state convention.

Under convention rules, all eight candidates appeared on the first ballot. The top three -- attorney Mike Lee, former Congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater and Bennett (in that order) advanced to the second round of balloting.

Bennett was defeated there as Lee, a former counsel to popular former Gov. Jon Huntsman, and Bridgewater, who had lost two races against Rep. Jim Matheson (D), advanced to the final ballot.

Bennett told the Associated Press he has not ruled out a write-in campaign.

The descent of the GOP into a party dominated by Rush Limbaugh and others of the far has proven to be a dominant factor in the political landscape. Once it was only the RINO (Republican In Name Only) officeholders; now it has come to a very conservative Senator in the Mountain West. As compiled by Project Vote Smart, Senator Bennett compiled this record recently:

* Abortion: In 2007, 2008, and 2009, supported the interests of NARAL Pro-ChoiceAmerica 0% and those of the National Right to Life Committee 85% in 2007-2008, 75% in 2005-2006, 100% in 2003-2004;

* Budget, Spending, and Taxes: In 2005-2006, supported the interests of Citizens Tax Justice 0%; and those of the National Taxpayers Union 71% in 2006 and 80% in 2009;

* Business and Consumers: In 2008, 2007, and 2006 supported the interests of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 100% and in 2007-2008 supported
the interests of the National Association of Manufacturers 100%

* Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: In 2009, supported the interests of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 19%, in 2007-2008 the interests of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 11% and of the American Civil Liberties Association 14% in 2007-2008;

* Education: In 2009, was given a grade of F by the National
Education Association and in 2007-2008, a grade of D

* Environmental Issues: In 2009, supported the interests of the League
of Conservation Voters 27%; in 2006 supported the positon of the League of Private Property Owners 89%

* Family and Childrens Issues: In 2007-2008, supported the interests of the
Family Research Council 88%

* Labor: In 2008, supported the interests of the AFL-CIO 10% and those of the Service Employees International Union, 0%

And on and on and on. On virtually every issue except for immigration- on which his ratings seem mixed- Bennett has received high ratings from conservative groups, low rtings from liberal groups- and generally very high, and very low, grades. Perhaps the convention voters were upset at Bennett's vote on TARP- but the matter rarely was mentioned and, characteristically for conservatives, there apparently was little or nothing mentioned as an alternative. And a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee is no guarantee of liberalism- as Bennett has proven- and can be mighty helpful to the folks back home.

But this is Utah, a state whose voters have gone Republican in at least the last ten presidential elections and which gave McCain-Palin 63% of its votes. So it will be tough to elect a Democrat as U.S. Senator even if Bennett wages a write-in campaign. Even if it didn't turn out so well for the Not Your Father's Automobile company.

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