Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino are the latest members of the far-right Tea Party movement who have crashed Republican Party primaries this fall. Both pulled surprise victories over establishment Republicans this week and will bring a choice to voters in November.
The choice O’Donnell and Paladino offer to voters is an interesting one. They seem to offer snappy “bumper-sticker” slogans that reject everything that is happening inside the Beltway. While this is clearly good for winning Republican primaries, it might not be enough to win in the November elections.
Paladino, who is gearing up for a one-on-one battle with Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo, gets to the point when it comes to energy policy. “Enough studying. Enough delays,” states his website with regards to hydraulic fracking for natural gas in upstate New York. While Pennsylvanians, and Ohioans are saying “hold on,” and asking the EPA to investigate what is in the chemicals used in fracking, Paladino might as well say “Frack, baby, frack!”
The Buffalo native, who claims, “global warming is a farce,” also makes the bumper-sticker argument that if others are fracking than it must be fine. Again from his own website, “Ohio and Pennsylvania are both allowing this extraction, creating thousands of jobs, reaping bountiful financial benefits and laughing at New York state.” Paladino’s platform makes no allusion to the uproar over sickness that Ohioans and Pennsylvanians are claiming is caused by fracking, let alone the current EPA investigation. Paladino wants jobs in New York, and he doesn’t care if they are bad for your health. This is the same logic that brought countless coal mining jobs, along with the black lung, to economically depressed West Virginia and Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century. Guess what: A century later, many of those places are still economically depressed.
As for Christine O’Donnell, her surge to victory in the Delaware Republican primary came at the expense of moderate Republican Mike Castle. Castle has been described as sympathetic to concerns about global warming. O’Donnell has consciously slapped the bumper sticker slogan of “cap and scheme” on any cap-and-trade bills being discussed in Congress. O’Donnell argues that a national energy policy that caps emissions, “would kill 6,117 jobs in Delaware.” The Tea Partier has signed the Contract for America, which calls for an “all of the above energy policy.” Now that is specific.
With O’Donnell in the race, every Republican Senate nominee this November is on the record as being a global warming denier. This should be no surprise. Many of these candidates are backed by the Tea Party, which is backed by some of the wealthiest polluters in the nation. The bumper-sticker slogans have put names on the ballot for the midterm elections, and in November the electorate will have some clear choices.