I can’t tell you how many places I’ve read that have people on the farther side of the right spectrum complaining about how Mitt Romney has been “forced” on voters as the GOP nominee. He’s just what the establishment wants. Well what does being the establishment candidate who is forced on us really mean?
It’s a legitimate question to explore since I don’t particularly like him. But, I don’t think forced is an accurate term, nor do I think what is happening with Mitt an example of the establishment anointing a candidate. If you really want to see a case of that happening, look no farther than Pennsylvania.
Consider the Keystone State’s U.S. Senate race this year. There are three reasonably well-known candidates, and one really rich guy who can buy enough ads to make himself well-known. Candidate A from the state’s population center is wealthy, but he’s never run a campaign. He’s only reasonably well-known in political circles because he has tried to run before, but he never actually got any campaigns off the ground since better-known Republicans stepped in and asked him to step aside. Candidate B has run a campaign and came within a very close margin of winning in a district that had voted Democratic for the seat since 1974. He has a national fundraising list to bring to the table, and he has a record with a campaign that could put numbers on the board even in a tough district. Candidate C is a former gubernatorial candidate who really didn’t resonate with GOP voters in his last primary, but he at least has experience trying to run in a statewide race. He would have a statewide donor list, presumably, so that should count for something. Candidate D is just the rich guy who doesn’t seem to bring much else to the table.
So, given all of these factors, you’d think that Candidates B & C would be the likely strongest candidates, right? Well, the state GOP leaders decided that they liked Candidate A. They liked him so much that they will provide him with official party resources in order to win the primary so he can work against other Republicans. Voters will technically have a say in the primary, but they want to make sure that party resources are provided for shoving their choice in our faces before the general election.
That, my friends, is what I call an establishment candidate. When the party quite literally spends official resources to back their personal favorite and possibly use the resources to attack other Republican candidates, that’s not allowing voters to really decide. I had never heard of such a process until I moved to Pennsylvania. It’s not just at the state level. I’ve watched county GOP officials disparage other Republicans who aren’t in their little approved circle and take them to court for minor things. It’s absurd to waste party resources eating our own, but that seems to be the official GOP way in Pennsylvania.
So, considering this example of truly having a candidate financially backed by party resources and picked in a room of party leaders, is Mitt in the same category?
The fact is that Mitt has won 772,064 Republican votes, according to the Wall Street Journal. To me, that means that Republicans are voting for the man. I may not like him, but I’m not going to claim that those 772,000 are all secretly party leaders picking the presidential nominee for the party. They are voters.