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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Eating Their Young

It’s generally accepted that conservative activists were a lot more upset about the judicial nomination “compromise” in the Senate than were their Democratic counterparts. But if current developments in Ohio are any indication, the Right isn’t going to get over it without extracting some revenge. According to a (subscription only) article by Lauren Whittington in today’s Roll Call, conservative fury about Sen. Mike DeWine’s involvement in the compromise is endangering the campaign of his son, Pat DeWine, in a special election to fill the seat of new U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman. Until the Senate went non-nuclear, the younger DeWine had been the front-runner for the GOP nomination in this heavily Republican district, mainly thanks to a big fundraising edge. But now, according to a poll conducted for his leading rival, former Rep. Bob McEwen, the two are neck and neck, with DeWine’s favorable/unfavorable ratio at a queasy 40/36 as opposed to McEwen’s 51/5. According to Whittington, the most important reason for DeWine’s high negatives is his father’s role in the Senate compromise. Indeed, he’s even suffering from conservative anger at his father’s Ohio colleague, George Voinovich, for his opposition to the Bolton nomination. “The actions of the two Ohio Senators,” reports Whittington, “considered blasphemous by much of the GOP base, have dominated conservative radio outlets in recent weeks.” What’s most interesting about this story is that anger over the judicial compromise and the Bolton “betrayal” is apparently not limited to full-time activists; it’s extending deep into the conservative rank-and-file. And that shows the Right-Wing Noise Machine, so effective as an instrument on behalf of the GOP, can turn lethally self-destructive if the Republican coalition begins to fall apart.

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