During the California Senate primary, my major criticisms of Carly Fiorina were that she had no public track record to back her on the issues, and that as a novice campaigner she was liable to make mistakes and lose a winnable race. During the race I didn't quite give her the Tom Campbell treatment, but I gave Chuck DeVore all the support I could.
During the Nevada Senate primary, the major criticism of Sharron Angle were that she was liable to make mistakes and lose a winnable race. She received so many attacks not just during the campaign, but even after when Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden came out to criticize her campaigning. At least Chuck DeVore endorsed Carly Fiorina without delay or weasel words.
Meanwhile few said a word about Mark Kirk being unelectable. After all, he's a veteran House member from a district analysts rate as favored by Democrats. He was supposed to be the safe, comfortable, sure path to a win. And yet he is the one who made a critical mistake that turned his sure pickup into a tie.
And of course there's Charlie Crist. The popular incumbent Republican governor of Florida was supposed to be just the man we needed in a state that went for Barack Obama, a seasoned politician with the ability to reach out to Democrats and Obama voters and win that state easily. Except now Kendrick Meek is taking his votes from Democrats, Marco Rubio won over Republicans, and he's falling apart a second time after shivving the Republican party with his spiteful Independent run.
Sometimes we're all just plain wrong about a candidate, and a person who wins a primary has more of what it takes than outsiders ever expected.
Carly Fiorina has stayed the same person since winning the primary. Some thought that without a track record, she could shift rapidly and hard to the left on key issues, trying to make it easier on herself to win. But no, she's stuck to her guns on life, on illegal immigration, on radical "green" regulation, and most importantly on the need to get government out of the way in order to let us get some job creation going again in California. And in fact rather than fading or falling apart, she mounted a comeback win in the primary, and has now taken leads in two polls of likely voters.
Sharron Angle took a brutal string of attacks from both parties once she won the primary, but she didn't quit. She didn't crack like some expected, she didn't make any remarks that the left and the press were able to twist against her, and she was in the end able to withstand the strongest attacks that the DC establishment and Harry Reid were able to combine against her. In the end, she too has bounced back in the polls to even up the race against the Senate Majority Leader.
It was supposed to be Sharron Angle, not Mark Kirk, that were supposed to fumble the key race and jeopardize our (slim, but real) chance of taking a Senate majority. It was supposed to be Carly Fiorina, not Charlie Crist, who would run to the left so hard and so fast we'd have a hard time remembering what was said in the primaries.
Well, the conventional wisdom was wrong quite a bit this year. We're committed to beating Charlie Crist now. We're hoping Mark Kirk can eke out a win on the coattails of Bill Brady. And we also need to get behind Sharron Angle and Carly Fiorina with everything we've got, because both will shift the Senate right, both can win, and both are crucial to our hopes of sending Barack Obama the biggest rejection he can possibly get: letting the Republican Senate Majority leader laugh in his face and say "We won."