Om Pandya, Columnist

Ideology: Libertarian Conservative | Writing from: Florida

As I pointed out in my last column, vicious Republican primary battles are hurting our chances to capitalize on the mood of the moment. A quick update: Bill McCollum has refused to endorse Rick Scott, and apparently the two cannot even stand to look at the other. With McCollum being a well-known and generally popular politician, this lack of endorsement is a powerful blow against Scott. Also, Alex Sink is gaining popularity even among Republicans. In fact, the only thing that prevents me from supporting her instead of Scott is the fact that whoever controls the governor’s mansion controls redistricting. 

But Republicans failure to prepare for the giant swing of momentum goes beyond bickering candidates and lies with the voters and donors themselves. In every state voters are also picking candidates that cannot win.

A classic example is the Senate race in Nevada, where in July, any generic Republican was beating Harry Reid in a head-to-head. Now, with the selection of Sharron Angle as the Republican nominee, many who would have voted Republican will stay home. Unlike the norm, in this race and many others, low turnout will actually hurt the Republicans, and they are susceptible to the same enthusiasm gap that Democrats face.

The problem, unlike Democrats claim, is not that the candidates are too conservative. In fact, despite a few positions, most of the candidates are in line with the American people who support an Arizona-type immigration law and disprove of the health care bill. But most of the blame must lie with the Tea Party. An organization that is supposed to be solidly conservative, they endorse the candidate that is more vocal in his conservatism at the expense of the candidate that actually is more conservative. Rejecting career conservatives in favor of the brash nouveau conservatives turns of the center and moves them to the left.  

Not only was this shown in the Scott-McCollum debacle, where a competent Reagan Republican had the base stolen by an outsider who simply declared himself to be more conservative, this scenario is repeated in other races. In the New York gubernatorial race, the Tea Party is supporting fringe candidate Carl Paladino, despite solidly conservative Republican candidate Rick Lazio. In most cases when the Tea Party candidate is not the establishment candidates, there is very little difference between the two.   

In gaining public support, unfortunately sometimes a fiery tongue is more important than a strong conservative , and outsider status is treasured. We don’t need ranting demagogues like Carl Paladino in office. We need real conservatives with real solutions to take the helm. While the Tea Party has invigorated the election season like no other, I only ask that they take a look at the candidate they wish to endorse. While I am not asking that they support liberal Republicans as a compromise, they should at least look at the candidates’ political accomplishments rather than just their rhetoric.