From the Washington Post:
Maryland Senate candidate Michael S. Steele, who often avoids mentioning his political affiliation in the overwhelmingly Democratic state, took one of his most direct swipes at his party in a new commercial yesterday while continuing to fault Democrats.Words the former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party probably regrets.
In the ad, Steele criticizes Republicans for creating an education policy "that teaches to a test," a reference to President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, and Democrats for putting "bureaucracy ahead of our kids."
"Some Republicans forget folks still climbing that ladder," he says, and Democrats "just raise their taxes."
Meanwhile, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin is trying to use the lieutenant governor's own words to pin Steele to the unpopular president. In the Democratic candidate's latest 30-second spot, the announcer says, "Steele wants you to believe he'll follow his own convictions. The truth?" The screen then flashes to Steele onstage at the 2004 Republican National Convention declaring: "The standard-bearer of these convictions is George W. Bush."
Steel and other GOoPer candidates around the country have been using their own party as a punching bag to try to get elected. Lincoln Chafee is another prime example of a Republican trying to win an election in a Blue State by trumpeting votes against the GOP.
John N. Bambacus, Professor of politics at Frostburg State University and manager of Maryland's last Republican senator's election campaign in 1980 said that Steele can get away with bashing the Republican Party and President Bush because the GOP base has "nowhere else to go."
For that matter, neither does the Republican Party leadership.
When candidates campaign this way, it all sounds good, of course, but in the end it doesn't matter how independent-minded a Republican candidate is. At the beginning of the next session of congress, a Republican won't vote for Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi for majority leader. A Republican candidate won't take control of rules, scheduling, procedure, or committee chairmanships away from Republicans.
Effectiveness of voting in a 'majority party pseudo-maverick' aside, anytime a candidate campaigns by running against his or her party it's bad for that party. When winning requires that a candidate is actively hostile to central parts of your party's platform, you weaken the platform. The candidate knows that if he or she runs against a certain program, when it comes time to vote on that program, the vote is going to be closely watched.
For Democrats, years of running against our party has hollowed out our positions, ideals, and the public's idea of what we stand for. The same thing will happen for Republicans.
Michael Steele Maryland Politics Senate 2006 Election