Impending Republican Doom, Exhibit XXXVIII
I could easily be reading too much into this, but it seems to be that if an establishment Republican with the backing of the entire state GOP machinery can't win a runoff election with low turnout in a classically red area in the South, it's worth it to ask the question of whether we'll see another landslide next November.
North Georgia voters out-muscled Augustans on Tuesday, propelling Athens physician Paul Broun to an apparent shocking victory over Jim Whitehead of Evans in a congressional runoff widely billed as a geographical rivalry.
Political experts expected Whitehead to finish off his fellow Republican easily. But Whitehead's 3-1 margin in Columbia and Richmond counties wasn't enough to make up for Broun's dominance outside Whitehead's old state Senate district.
Broun won 13 of the district's 21 counties. He received almost 90 percent of the vote in Clarke County - where he worked hard to bring Democrats back to the polls in the absence of a Democrat in the race - and his home county of Oconee. He performed almost as well in other counties east and north of the Augusta area.
Broun pledged to be a bipartisan, reform congressman, in keeping with an unorthodox campaign that put together a coalition of disgruntled Republicans, Democrats and Christian conservatives. He was able to overcome a wide fundraising gap and Whitehead's support from GOP leaders.
This was kind of a funny race, you had two fairly hard-right conservatives involved. But it's clear to me that the race was between an insider and an outsider, and the outsider pulled it off despite being vastly outspent. That says to me that the Republican brand is completely trashed, far more than the experts believe. Yes, Jim Whitehead was an idiot who shot himself in the foot with a number of ill-advised comments. But it's not like most establishment Republicans are much better. And 200-some of them will be on the ballot next November. And the public doesn't seem to have much of a taste for any of them.