We endorsed Chuck DeVore in the GOP California Senate primary over Carly Fiorina. We did so because of DeVore's proven record of staunch conservatism -- which he continues fighting for now, having just helped kill a California open-carry ban -- but also because we didn't really trust or know anything about Fiorina. Carly's conservative record was thin to nonexistent, and there were many troubling signs that she held liberal views. From her praise of Jesse Jackson, to her playing the race and gender cards against DeVore, to her support for the Wall Street bailouts, to her qualified support for the Obama stimulus, to her past support for taxation of sales on the Internet, to her waffling on immigration, to her support for Sonia Sotomayor, to her Master's thesis advocating greater federal control of local education, to her past support for weakening California's Proposition 13, to her statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that Roe v. Wade is "a decided issue," Carly Fiorina's oft-repeated claim to be a "lifelong conservative" was only plausible in the universe of NRSC staffers who recruited her in the first place.During the primary, Fiorina aggressively positioned herself to the right, aided by millions in self-funding and the support of a DC-based network more interested in her money and her connections than in any conservative principles. In addition to the NRSC's unashamed support, Fiorina received the endorsement of major DC "pro-life" groups like the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Right to Life Committee -- and got the backing of Gov. Sarah Palin and a host of DC Republicans, from Lindsey Graham to John McCain.All these groups, and our supposed betters in the party establishment, fed us several lines on Carly: that no matter what her actual record said she was "one of us"; that she would hold to her conservatism in the general election and in the Senate; that she had a better chance of beating Barbara Boxer than Chuck Devore; and that even if she wasn't conservative, she was still better than Barbara Boxer.Whether the latter two are true or not, and I think for certain that Carly Fiorinia will be demonstrably better than Barbara Boxer, everything is hypothetical now except that those of us who knew better understood that in the general election, the great lurch left of center would begin.Let's not abandon Carly Fiorina, but lest you be under some impression that she'll be solidly and forthrightly with us in the Senate, understand what you are getting.The moment the great lurch left began came this past Wednesday, September 1st, in the televised debate between Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer.In the debate, which was dominated -- as I told you repeatedly during the primary that it would be -- by Boxer going on offense over Fiorina's time as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina let loose three bombshells on conservatives:
- She endorsed Federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research for "extra" embyros.
- She endorsed the California DREAM Act, which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
- She refused to endorse California's Proposition 23, which suspends the job-killing AB 32 climate-change law.
On that last, Barbara Boxer was swift to respond: "If you can't take a stand on Proposition 23, I don't know what you will take a stand on." Which brings us to the only time in the history of RedState we'll agree with her. On September 3rd, her campaign sent out an e-mail saying she supports Prop 23 -- not quite 48 hours after refusing to take a position in the televised debate with Boxer.To restate all this, Carly Fiorina abandoned pro-lifers, immigration conservatives, and every Californian who can't find work because of their state's eco-radical legislation (she did try about 48 hours later to get that group back). Here's the kicker: none of this is a surprise. At least, none of it is a surprise if you paid attention to Carly's actual record, instead of her campaign claims.So what now? Do we abandon Carly Fiorina? Polls show that she's got an even shot at becoming the next Senator from California, which is better than any Boxer opponent has managed since 1992. Now that she's shed any pretense of being a full-on conservative -- and now that she's apparently decided she doesn't need her own party's base -- where does that leave us? Sure, she's still better than Boxer. So is my dog, at least my hypothetical dog I intend to get and name Max once I have a house and yard big enough to accommodate a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.Here's what we need to understand from this:
- A candidate's record always means more than the candidate's rhetoric. Always.
- A liberal masquerading as a conservative is a feature, not a bug, of the NRSC and its allies.
- Many DC advocacy groups are more interested in the "DC" than the "advocacy" part (not to mention their win-loss record).
- Celebrity candidates don't need you as much as they tell you.
- Your best guides to candidate selection are the Club for Growth and Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund.
If you're in California, absolutely and willingly vote for Carly Fiorina. But do so understanding who Carly Fiorina actually is. The mask is off, and there's a squishy moderate underneath. In the Golden State, the sad truth is that our best hope is to replace a radical with a RINO. Considering the choice we could have had, that's a shame.