Guests: Chris Matthews, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Andrew Siff, Ezra Klein, Will Bunch, Nate Silver
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening. And thank you for joining us on this very big primary night as the news continues to unfold. It is now just after 11:00 on the East Coast. Just after 8:00 on the West Coast. And the polls are now closed in the seven states holding primary elections tonight, plus the District of Columbia.
Tonight is the last major night of primaries for this year‘s elections. Yes, yes, I know, there is a run-off in Louisiana still. And on Saturday there is a primary in the state of Hawaii. But other than that, that‘s it.
Tonight is the last big night to set the standards for -- to set the standards, to set the score card for which Democrats and which Republicans are going to be facing off against one another in November.
Results are still coming in at this hour. But the biggest result of the night is the political earthquake that has taken place in the state of Delaware where tea party favorite Christine O‘Donnell is now officially the Republican Party‘s nominee for the United States Senate.
Christine O‘Donnell defeating Republican Congressman Mike Castle tonight. Mike Castle had never before lost an election. Mike Castle was the Republican Party‘s pick for this Senate seat. But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Christine O‘Donnell has been declared the winner with 53 percent of the vote to Mike Castle‘s 47 percent.
We‘ll have more on that race in just a moment. But first some other results to bring you at this hour. In the great state of New Hampshire, another tea party-backed candidate, Ovide Lamontagne, is also faring well. He now leads fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte in the Republican Senate primary to fill the seat of retiring Senator Judd Gregg.
Right now with 21 percent of precincts in, Mr. Lamontagne is leading Ms. Ayotte 43 percent to 37 percent. Although Lamontagne is seen as the outsider favorite here, you should know it is Ms. Ayotte who actually received the backing of Sarah Palin.
Again, the latest results in this race, 21 percent in, Ovide Lamontagne ahead of Kelly Ayotte 43 to 37 percent. Yet another instance of an outsider conservative candidate leading the Republican establishment choice.
In the state of New York, embattled Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel trying to hold on to his House seat tonight, going for a 21st term in Congress even as he faces an ethics trial in the House of Representatives. Charlie Rangel is facing five Democratic challengers for his seat. He leads them all right now with 19 percent of precincts reporting. Charlie Rangel, with 48 percent of the vote. His nearest challenger, Adam Clayton Powell IV, with 24 percent of the vote.
New York is the scene of another shocker tonight. This one coming in the Republican race for governor. The Associated Press is now reporting that Carl Paladino has defeated the fellow Republican Rick Lazio in that race. A stunning result in the New York governor‘s race.
Carl Paladino enjoys vague tea party support, but he has made himself famous in this campaign because a western New York media publication published a slew of really quite hardcore pornographic and racist e-mails that he sent to friends and political associates.
So, again, the big news so far tonight is the major upset in the state of Delaware where tea party favorite Christine O‘Donnell has defeated nine-term Republican Congressman Mike Castle. Mr. Castle thought to be a relative lock in that race just weeks ago. But with 100 percent of precincts now reporting, Christine O‘Donnell defeating Mike Castle 53 to 47 percent.
Again, also the bigger—the other big result tonight, Carl Paladino defeating Rick Lazio. That race being called now by the Associated Press. That is the Republican primary for the governorship in the state of New York. Mr. Paladino will face Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat in that race for the next New York governor.
Shortly after the O‘Donnell versus Mike Castle results became official in Delaware, Mike Castle, the defeated Republican establishment candidate in that race, addressed his supporters at his headquarters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE CASTLE (R-DE), SENATE CANDIDATE: The last several weeks have been spirited, shall we say. And the voters in the Republican primary have spoken and I respect that decision. I had a very nice speech prepared here, hoping I would win this race. And talked about the things we‘ve been able to do to create jobs and reduce taxes and those things that make a difference to Delawareans.
There‘s still a long way to go, by the way. I still have some time in office so I will be fervently trying to carry out my responsibilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Castle now becomes the latest in a long line of Republican Party-endorsed candidates to lose to an outsider, a conservative movement challenger this year. Within the last hour, Christine O‘Donnell also addressed her supporters at a victory rally in Dover, Delaware.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL (R-DE), SENATE CANDIDATE: I can‘t thank everyone by name because we would be here until midnight. Because so many people have sacrificed so hard. But I specifically want to thank the 9/12 Patriots for laying the foundation and stirring things up in Delaware.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O‘DONNELL: The Founders Values Group, and all of the Delaware tea party groups. You guys are the visionaries and leaders who made this possible. Because you rallied everyday Americans outside of the political establishment, brought them involved, and created a grassroots network. That made all of this possible.
So then I also want to thank the Tea Party Express for getting behind.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O‘DONNELL: Where are they?
We‘re in this to win.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O‘DONNELL: And we‘re in this to win big. And win big we did. Don‘t ever underestimate the power of we, the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A very happy Christine O‘Donnell addressing her supporters in Delaware tonight after beating Mike Castle. I have one other live shot that I want to show you right now. This is another very excited campaign headquarters right now, Carl Paladino‘s headquarters right now.
Carl Paladino having defeated Rick Lazio, the establishment Republican candidate for New York governor. I will be talking much more about that race later on this hour. Again, Carl Paladino beating Rick Lazio for the Republican primary for governor in New York State. Just a shocking, shocking result here in New York State.
But, again, Christine O‘Donnell now the Republican nominee to fill the Senate seat of Vice President Joe Biden. She now moves on to face Democrat Chris Coons in the general election.
And the Republican Party in Delaware is left to try to figure out if they want to unite behind Christine O‘Donnell as their new candidate. It is not necessarily an easy task given that the Delaware Republican Party chairman recently proclaimed that Christine O‘Donnell was, quote, “not a viable candidate for any office in the state of Delaware, she could not be elected dog-catcher.”
The state party in Delaware—the Republican Party, also ran robo-calls against Christine O‘Donnell today, featuring her former campaign manager for one of her many Senate campaigns. That campaign manager saying, in those robo-calls, that Christine O‘Donnell had lived off of campaign donations for her personal expenses. That robo-call also calling her a fraud. That was run by the Republican Party.
The Republican Party now has seven weeks to get behind Christine O‘Donnell, if they are going to. Whether or not that will happen is something we shall soon find out and shall enjoy covering very much.
Joining us now for this big primary night is Chris Matthews, the host of “HARDBALL”; and Lawrence O‘Donnell, the host of the soon-to-debut “LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL.”
Chris, Lawrence, thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it.
O‘DONNELL: Good to be here.
MADDOW: Chris, let me ask you about the Christine O‘Donnell victory. You think no question the Republican Party finds a way to fall in love with her and get behind her in this candidacy?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”: Well, they have to. And that‘s what they do. I already saw a letter from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. They‘ve already gotten excited about her. They are going to do what they have to do.
I think you pointed out, rather correctly, you noticed the fact that the defeated Republican candidate didn‘t endorse her tonight. So that bit of fence-mending has yet to be done and it may not be done.
But I would have been shocked if she had gotten 40 percent tonight. Up until late today, in fact, well into the evening, the establishment types from Delaware were saying, this isn‘t going to happen.
This is a shattering upset. There is no doubt about it. Nobody expected it. They were talking 60 percent for Castle late this afternoon. They assumed they had her well in hand. And look what she did.
MADDOW: Lawrence, what does the end of Mike Castle‘s political career mean tonight? A nine-term congressman, seen as a moderate but certainly not a liberal Democrat, at least anywhere outside of Republican campaign literature on that, are there moderates left in the Republican Party? Do they have to go into hibernation and wake up in a few years or do they become Democrats? What do they do?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “LAST WORD”: There is a couple of them hiding out in Maine and occasionally reporting to the United States Senate.
But, no, this is the end. You know, Delaware had a moderate Republican senator, William Roth, who rose to the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. And, you know, he was one of those Republicans that Democrats could work with on a certain percentage of what they were trying to do.
And so Delaware is apparently not going to be the place that sends that kind of Republican to Washington. And if Delaware can‘t do it and we really are down to Maine, then, yes, we are seeing the end of what would have been—what used to be—there used to be something that I think we‘re lose the young audience on this.
There used to be a thing in Washington called a “liberal Republican.” They actually existed. Connecticut had a liberal Republican in the Senate who was replaced by Joe Lieberman who ended up being to the right of the Republican that he replaced.
There was the so-called “Rockefeller Republican” which was considered a liberal Republican. Named for the governor of New York, Governor Rockefeller. There is no such thing, nothing even close to a liberal Republican. The moderate Republican was the outer edge of that side of the Republican Party for a couple decades. And now they are becoming extinct.
MADDOW: But, Chris, am I right that you don‘t believe the common wisdom that Republicans getting less moderate, really purging the moderates, and going with very conservative candidates, that that reduces their electability? Am I right that you think the common wisdom is bunk?
MATTHEWS: Not this year. Not this year. This year is a year of right-wing anger and I think moderate to progressive frustration, middle-of-the-road fear. I think the country is scared to death. I think this is always going to be a middle class country, if we‘re lucky, economically middle class.
And I would like to see more middle class people really meaning middle class, not just at the bottom. And they‘re scared at the bottom, they‘re scared at the top. As they used to—as Robert Reich once taught me, they fear mob at the gate and the rot at the top.
They‘re scared from both directions. And when people are scared, they get angry. And I‘m going to tell you, the voter in America is very, very angry at the establishment.
God help the person who waves the flag and says, I‘m the big shot here, I deserve to be re-elected. God help this person. I‘ve been waiting for this kind of an election. I didn‘t think it would come from the right. But I thought there would be a throw-the-bums-out race for years and I‘ve never seen one.
Ninety-some percent of incumbent senators and congress-people get re-elected year after year, like the old Politburo of the Soviet Union. It was absolutely predictable. And now to say that you‘ve got this nice resume is almost a self-indictment.
And Lawrence knows this. I mean, the idea used to be, here I am, I have the right law degree, I have the right this. Well, look at what happened to Martha Coakley up in Massachusetts. She had all of the credentials. She was supported by women‘s groups. I emceed one of the big groups of the political action committee up there. I‘m doing it again this year. She had all the right—what do you call them, cards? She had all the right tools to win and she lost because she was the establishment.
And I see it in almost every race, right, left, and center. If you‘re the establishment—which is a British term, of course, you know that, having studied over there, I think it is appropriate here. And I don‘t think it is a popular term anymore.
MADDOW: Lawrence, in terms of the—I guess the Democratic glee that we experienced tonight, I mean, Democrats are excited about the prospect of being able to hold on to that Senate seat in Delaware, because it is Christine O‘Donnell, because it‘s not Mike Castle.
Democrats are excited about the prospect of running against Ovide Lamontagne potentially in New Hampshire, as opposed to Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire.
But if what Chris is saying, that this is a fundamentally different kind of election, that there is really no price for extremism, that you can‘t look too wacky, that the wackiness can‘t be a grounds for losing an election, then how do Democrats recalibrate their strategy to account for that?
O‘DONNELL: Yes, I don‘t think there is anything for them to be gleeful about tonight. There certainly are thing that they can be hopeful about. If Mike Castle had come through with a very solid win in Delaware tonight, I think the Democrats would simply pull—you know, drop any hope of winning the state and not send any resources there to help out. Now they have got a very, very good shot. They‘ve got a solid shot in Delaware tonight.
And so, you know, this is the kind of hope that sprung up in Nevada when Sharron Angle got the nomination there. And, you know, Harry Reid‘s number rose from the death kind of polling he was doing out there for an incumbent, up to viability. And he is now—he now seems to be on his way to holding on to his seat. Thanks to the Republican primary process delivering what appears to be an unelectable in Nevada.
And so that is the hope, that that‘s what we‘re going to see in Delaware. That‘s the Democratic hope.
But there is not that much time between now and Election Day to dismantle, derail the momentum that Christine, no relation, O‘Donnell has going for her in that state.
MADDOW: I do also.
MATTHEWS: But, you know.
MADDOW: Yes, go ahead, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But, you know, these other states, I was studying the numbers the other night, and you all study the numbers, and look at like a pollster.com, which is the—obviously the composite of all of the polling.
And it showed Rand Paul ahead by 7. Pat Toomey ahead by 7. Roy Blunt, who is not exactly a tea-partier, he is ahead by 7. And the only states that are really within the margin of error now are the states we used to take for granted a couple months ago, which is Barbara Boxer out in California, the 18-year incumbent.
And, of course, Patty Murray is very popular, she is in trouble. As is, as you mentioned, Harry Reid, who is running dead even with this far out candidate. And of course, Wisconsin, where Russ Feingold, of all people, Mr. Pure, absolutely perfect in terms of integrity as a United States Senator, he is facing a self-financer.
And so you have—the races that we took for granted are now in play. The ones we thought were in play are now almost lost, almost lost right now.
MADDOW: Chris Matthews and Lawrence O‘Donnell. Gentlemen, I enjoy talking about this stuff with you very, very much. Thanks very much tonight. I really appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Chris will be back at midnight with a special live edition of
And we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO ®, NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, the ruling class knows! They have—they—they‘ve seen it now, OK? They not only know it, but they‘ve seen it. There‘s a people‘s revolution! Everyday New Yorkers are just mad enough to force change at the ballot box.
The people have had enough!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Multi-millionaire real estate developer Carl Paladino inveighing against the ruling class! Carl Paladino has just beaten former congressman Rick Lazio to win New York state‘s Republican gubernatorial primary. Wow! We will have much more on this, surprising results, right after this. I‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: As we just mentioned earlier this hour, in the New York Republican gubernatorial primary with 47 percent of precincts reporting, Carl Paladino is the projected winner. He leads the establishment candidate, Rick Lazio, 67 to 33 percent. Carl Paladino will be the Republican Party‘s candidate for governor of New York state. Wow!
Carl Paladino funded his campaign with about $10 million of his own money, a huge fortune made in real estate, as, among other things, the largest landlord for state offices in Buffalo, which is awkward, given Mr. Paladino‘s campaign stance as the “I really hate government the most” guy, since such a huge proportion of his huge income comes from the government.
Mr. Paladino is also famous for sending this. A western New York publication called WNYmedia.net received and published what they called a deluge of e-mails that Carl Paladino had sent to a who‘s who of Buffalo-area politicians, media types and hangers-on, including this—this not actually a photo, Photoshopped image of the president and first lady dressed for what the e-mail subject line called “a White House ball.” Thanks, Carl.
There was another e-mail titled “Proof the Irish discovered Africa,” which had as an attachment a video monkeys doing a little Riverdance-style jig. So you get it? Irish because they‘re doing the little dance, and Africa because they‘re—yes.
Another superracist e-mail included video of an African tribal dance under the title, “Obama inauguration rehearsal.” Other e-mails from Carl Paladino we can‘t show you. They‘re just plain out straightforward hard-core porn. And some of it involved not so straightforward hard-core porn, but rather people having sex with animals. Carl Paladino would forward porn clips like that with subjects headings like, “A keeper,” and “Easy steady, big fella.”
But it was the e-mail with the African tribal dance which purports to be the president‘s inauguration rehearsal that prompted an angry response from one of Mr. Paladino‘s e-mail recipients, to which Mr. Paladino replied this way. Quote, “I apologize to you and everyone if that is offensive. To me, it‘s just humor. I‘m not a racist and have never related Obama‘s color to my political distaste for him. I‘m not sensitive to ethnic humor.” Then he uses a series of ethnic slurs, which you can read on the screen but I will not say out loud. He then says, “Whatever, we hear the humor every day. I think the oversensitivity to black/white is wrong and in itself demeaning. I advocate for the plight of our inner city youth. I apologize if that‘s offensive.”
Mr. Paladino further riffed on his non-apology apology by saying, actually, the only reason he uses really racist constructions and racist—racist and pornographic—sends racist and pornographic e-mail like this is because he‘s in the construction business. He also emphasized his species in defending himself.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PALADINO: I‘m human. I‘m human like you and like everybody else. So don‘t pontificate to me, OK?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, humans with their racist, pornographic e-mail genes. Mr. Paladino‘s plans for the plight of our inner city youth, as he says that he is committed to them—his plans are to teach them basic things, including personal hygiene. Mr. Paladino has proposed converting prison dorms into Welfare centers. Quote, “Instead of handing out Welfare checks, we‘ll teach people how to earn their check. We‘ll teach them personal hygiene, the personal things they don‘t get when they come from dysfunctional homes.” Quote, “You have to teach them basic things, taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things.”
On his campaign Web site, Mr. Paladino calls his “send Welfare recipients to prison plan” the Dignity Corps. He also likens his vision in which the chronically poor are merely chronically ignorant and dirty to FDR‘s New Deal. It‘s exactly the same thing. Carl Paladino is now the official Republican Party candidate for governor of the state of New York.
Joining us now from Rick Lazio‘s campaign headquarters is WNBC‘s Andrew Siff. Andrew, thanks very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
ANDREW SIFF, WNBC-TV CORRESPONDENT: Really, good to be here. It‘s a very subdued Rick Lazio campaign headquarters. And in fact, just a little while ago, Ed Cox—he‘s New York state‘s Republican Party chairman—came in and gave a bit of a pump up the crowd speech and never once mentioned the name Rick Lazio, which is very unusual, given that this is Lazio campaign headquarters.
Cox also said there was record Republican turnout in New York state today. And while those numbers have yet to back out—back up that claim, that would indicate that for the first time really in this whole cycle, New York state rode that same tea party wave which has affected other states.
And this Paladino victory started to build over the weekend with a couple of polls which showed the race tightening, and it really turned into a tidal wave of numbers throughout the day today. And we have yet to see Rick Lazio appear here at his headquarters, Rachel.
MADDOW: You know, Andrew, we saw the establishment versus outsider dynamic at work in so many ways in this campaign. Mr. Paladino actually lost to Rick Lazio at the state Republican convention. He had to petition his way into this primary, essentially. What indications are we getting that the Republican establishment may or may not be able to embrace Carl Paladino as their candidate and really work for him to try to win this race?
SIFF: Well, the early indications I got earlier tonight from the state Republican Party chairman was, quote, “Whoever comes out of the chute tonight, we‘ll support.” And this was a couple of hours ago. So already, there is an indication that they‘re going to embrace Carl Paladino and make this a contest against Andrew Cuomo.
You probably heard from Paladino‘s speech up in Buffalo tonight, he used the line “Status Cuomo.” You can expect to hear that tonight. Interestingly that Rick Lazio was treated as an incumbent, even though he didn‘t hold office. Paladino ran with the “mad as hell” theme as though Lazio needed to be thrown out of office, but he didn‘t hold office. And I think that the Republican Party in New York state is deciding that they can get behind this energy. If there really was record turnout, if they really did mobilize people up in Erie County and in Rochester and in Albany and in Syracuse to the polls, those are the voters they‘re going to need in November if they‘re going to have a shot against a well-funded popular Democrat like Andrew Cuomo.
MADDOW: WNBC‘s Andrew Siff joining us from Rick Lazio‘s headquarters in New York. Andrew, really invaluable to have you on the program tonight. Thank you so much.
SIFF: Happy to be here. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So the right, the conservative part of America, owns most of the media real estate this season, but the left has tonight punished an establishment Democrat, as well. Some big and rather unexpected news from New Hampshire coming up, along with “Washington Post‘s” Ezra Klein. Please do stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight‘s election‘s results will be viewed as a victory for the far right over the right, as anti-establishment conservative movement candidates continue to romp over establishment GOP candidates in the Republican primaries.
But you want to know who else tonight is a victory for? It‘s also a victory for Moveon.org and Planned Parenthood and Emily‘s List and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. In a much more low-profile way, those lefty groups were busy challenging establishment candidates this year, too. And tonight, they appear to have won big in New Hampshire, where the liberal challenger, Annie McLean Kuster, is the projected winner over Katrina Swett in the Democratic primary for the state‘s 2nd House district.
Katrina Swett‘s candidacy was almost a foregone conclusion in New Hampshire politics. She is a multiple previous candidate. She is also both the daughter of and wife of former congressmen. But she lost tonight to Annie McLean Kuster in part on the strength of Kuster‘s big, liberal endorsements and Annie Kuster‘s strong pro-choice credentials.
Joining us now is Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor. Ezra, thanks for joining us again.
EZRA KLEIN, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: How are you?
MADDOW: Oh, same as I was before, except more blown away.
MADDOW: This is not—this is not the big narrative. The big narrative is about what‘s going on on the right. This is a much smaller piece of what people are paying attention to. But is this a sign of enthusiasm, or at least organization, among the Democratic base?
KLEIN: Certainly a sign of organization, you know? And I think what we are seeing—there is a meta narrative here, right? People don‘t like D.C. right now. The narrative this year is supposed to be people don‘t like Democrats. But in fact, they don‘t like D.C.‘s Republicans, either. So you see the D.C. Democrats going down, like Swett, and you see the Republicans going down, like in Delaware with Castle. And the basic message of voters is that they don‘t like what‘s going on right behind me.
MADDOW: This is shaping up in New Hampshire, this race, this Kuster versus Swett race in New Hampshire—we don‘t have every precinct reporting yet, but it is shaping up to be a very big spread. And in an election in which there is not—a primary election in which there‘s not huge turnout, there aren‘t a ton of people voting, you usually expect name recognition to make the big difference. Katrina Swett is from one of the biggest names in New Hampshire politics. So why doesn‘t that work out in a race like this?
KLEIN: It‘s becoming a liability for some of these folks.
KLEIN: The really big thing that‘s happening this year, which I think is different from many past years, is that you‘re seeing real pillars of the establishment fall. And that doesn‘t just matter because they themselves lose their primaries. It matters because everyone else in Congress—if a Katrina Swett or a Mike Castle or a Bob Bennett can go down like that, if a John McCain can really be challenged, who are you to say you can‘t?
And that means that when Congress comes back in November, whatever happens in the election, every liberal, every moderate, every conservative is going to think a lot harder about crossing their party. This election, the long-term effect of it, is going to make this a much more parliamentary team-oriented polity because over there, people are going to be much, much, much more concerned about facing a primary because there is no one who can say there‘s a reason I‘ll be safe when these other people weren‘t. These people were supposed to be safe.
MADDOW: Although certainly, the cudgel being wielded by the right against the Republican candidates is much bigger than the cudgel being wielded by the left. I await the sort of Beltway media narrative about Democrats being afraid of their base. It so rarely happens, but we do see a little bit of evidence of it tonight, at least a little, right?
KLEIN: We do see a little bit. We‘re seeing a lot of evidence that every incumbent in D.C. has a lot of reason to be afraid of their base tonight. And you know, it‘ll be interesting to see if in 2012, we‘re having similar conversations to this one. It‘ll be interesting to see if we‘re seeing a phase change or a one-time movement.
MADDOW: Ezra Klein, staff writer for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor, up well past his bedtime at this point. Ezra, thank you for joining us tonight.
KLEIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Just to recap, tonight‘s biggest headline, the biggest headline out of tonight‘s primaries—and these the last big primaries before November. This is the last big primary night before we get to the mid-term elections. The biggest result tonight is tea party candidate Christine O‘Donnell upsetting Delaware Republican congressman Mike Castle. The Delaware Republican Senate primary is that huge story. We‘ll have much more on Ms. O‘Donnell, including a remarkable video of her speaking to MTV about abstinence in her previous career as an abstinence organizer. That‘s coming up next.
Plus, more on Carl Paladino beating Rick Lazio for the New York governor‘s Republican nomination. Just some amazing political stories tonight. Please do stay with us.
MADDOW: Christine O‘Donnell has pulled off the upset in Delaware‘s Republican Senate primary, defeating veteran congressman and establishment pick Mike Castle for the Delaware Senate Republican nomination. With tonight‘s win, Christine O‘Donnell becomes a name with which Americans will soon be much more familiar. Of course, tonight, she actually won, which should not be confused with her false claims that she defeated or maybe tied Joe Biden in two of Delaware‘s three counties when she ran against him for Senate. Even though she said that multiple times in her campaign this time around, that wasn‘t actually true. Biden trounced her soundly.
You may also recall that Ms. O‘Donnell consistently floated the suggestion that her opponent, Congressman Mike Castle, was secretly gay. When confronted about making those allegations, O‘Donnell denounced the “my opponent is gay” tactic by repeating it a lot and then she told Mr. Castle to put his man pants on.
It should be noted that in her victory speech tonight, Christine O‘Donnell decried what she said were character assassination tactics. She ascribed those tactics to other people‘s politics.
Heading into today‘s vote, the 2008 campaign manager for Christine O‘Donnell‘s failed bid to unseat Joe Biden, Kristen Murray, called O‘Donnell a, quote, “complete fraud.” This was in a robocall from the state Republican Party against O‘Donnell.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KRISTEN MURRAY, O‘DONNELL‘S FMR. CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is her third Senate race in five years. As O‘Donnell‘s manager, I found out she was living on campaign donations—using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her worker unpaid and piling up thousands in debt. She wasn‘t concerned about conservative debt. O‘Donnell just wanted to make a buck.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Christine O‘Donnell‘s former campaign manager.
That robocall effort by 2008 Christine O‘Donnell campaign manager, Kirsten Murray, was to get voters to not vote for Ms. O‘Donnell today. It did not have its desired effect.
Tonight, we can mark the occasion of Christine O‘Donnell‘s victory—a result that is certain to reverberate in November, perhaps negatively affecting the GOP‘s chances of taking back the Senate—we can mark that victory with this: Christine O‘Donnell speaking to MTV in 1996 in her capacity as an abstinence campaigner, which is the job that she had before she started deciding to run for Senate three time in five years. The woman you see here is now all but officially the Republican Party‘s candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware.
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: My name is Christine O‘Donnell. I am the president and founder of the SALT. The SALT stands for the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth.
We choose sexual purity in our lives. We have God-given sexual desires. And we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God‘s appropriate context.
We need to address sexuality with young people. And masturbation is part of sexuality. But it is important to discuss this from a moral point of view.
CHRISTINE GEDGAUDAS, MARKETING MANAGER, THE SALT: Masturbation is a selfish act, and it‘s a lustful one. And we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulterous lusting hearts.
TODD HITCHCOCK, YOUTH PASTOR: The Bible is clear in the fact that it says that any sexual act outside of the realm of marriage is wrong.
O‘DONNELL: The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So, you can‘t masturbate without lust.
The reason that you don‘t tell them that masturbation is the answer to AIDS and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because, again, it is not addressing the issue. You‘re going to be pleasing each other. And if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am in the picture?
MADDOW: Christine O‘Donnell tonight winning the Delaware Republican Senate primary.
And with that, we are pleased to be joined by Will Bunch, senior
writer for the “Philadelphia Daily News” and author of the popular blog,
“Attytood.” He‘s also author of the “Backlash: Right Wing Radicals, High-
Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.‘
It‘s good to see you, Will. Thanks for joining us.
WILL BUNCH, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: It‘s good to see you. What a night, huh?
MADDOW: Oh, I feel like I‘m a human exclamation point.
BUNCH: Me, too.
MADDOW: While that tape was playing, we actually just got some breaking news that I want to get your response to.
MADDOW: An NRSC, National Republican Senate Campaign official, the Republican Party Senate campaign, has now just told “The Wall Street Journal” that they will not spend money on Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware. What do you think have—they say, I should say, “If her position improves, the committee might reconsider its allocation of scarce resources.”
How does Christine O‘Donnell prove herself to Republican that‘s she is worthy of mainstream support now?
BUNCH: Well, I mean, that‘s shocking news. I‘m really surprised to hear that. I knew there wasn‘t going to be a big unity rally, but I didn‘t expect to hear something like that. I think it can be very hard. You know, a lot of media, you know, we love the kind of Sarah Palinesque features of Christine O‘Donnell‘s personality.
But the truth is, you know, what I found that really drove her victory and I spent a lot of time in Delaware. In fact, I did a lot of reporting on the Delaware 9/12 Patriots, which is the first Tea Party group that she thanked in her victory speech tonight. And these people—these people are motivated by their anger towards Mike Castle. I don‘t think they‘re motivated by their love of Christine O‘Donnell.
I mean—I mean, these crazy issues of abstinence and talking about lust and masturbation is not what I found in my year reporting of the book that animates the Tea Party. And now that Castle is out of the way, it will be interesting to see what kind of enthusiasm she can generate, especially among the half of Republicans who didn‘t vote for her, among moderates who heard these ads.
You know, Chris Coons got the greatest gift of all. He got two weeks of advertising against Christine O‘Donnell that he didn‘t have to pay a dime for and he‘s off to a great start.
MADDOW: In Christine O‘Donnell‘s victory speech tonight, she specifically shouted out the Delaware 9/12 Patriots and asked somebody from the group to come up on stage and talk about the founding of that group. The anecdote that was related from the stage, sort of in the middle of her victory celebration, was about how Karl Rove had come to Delaware—
MADDOW: -- and talk to Christine O‘Donnell about needing to get behind the party and the 9/12 Patriots, essentially said, get lost, Karl. That was the message from the stage tonight.
BUNCH: Absolutely. You know, I actually recounted that scene in the book because Russ Murphy, the leader of the 9/12 will me all about it. That‘s how worried the Republicans were. And this happened back in December of last year.
So, if you don‘t think that the Republican establishment wasn‘t very scared that this could happen, you know, eight months ago, they were terrified because they knew that there was anger about Castle. There was anger because voters see him as to patrician and out of touch. There was anger because he voted for Obama‘s cap and trade plan.
In the Tea Party movement, one vote for an Obama program can be the kiss of death. They‘ll never vote for you again.
MADDOW: So, what happens to the GOP establishment, though? You don‘t just—a party just doesn‘t wither away. Dick Armey isn‘t going to be taking Michael Steele‘s job in the next five minutes at least. There‘s got to be—there‘s got to be some sort of reckoning with the huge extent, very well-moneyed Republican establishment. What happens to them? Did they just adapt or did they eventually have to get beaten into submission?
BUNCH: I think—I think more beaten into submission. There‘s only six weeks now between now and Election Day. And these risks in the Republican Party in the place like Delaware are huge right now. And, you know, I don‘t think it looks—it looks good. Where they go in 2011, I don‘t know.
MADDOW: Will Bunch, senior writer for “The Philadelphia Daily News,” whose beat just got that much more interesting.
MADDOW: Thank you, Will. Really appreciate it. Good luck with the book tour right now.
BUNCH: Oh, great. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the slate of contestants is set for the first Tuesday in November. First of all—wow! Also—what happens now? Political number cruncher supreme Nate Silver will be here to help try to figure out it out next.
Please stick around.
MADDOW: Primary season save the best night for last if by best you mean most amazing. We have up-to-date results and what it all means with Nate Silver, coming up.
MADDOW: There‘s a direct relationship between how excited I am about news going on with any one moment and how trashed my desk is, because I think that each one of these pieces of paper has to be facing me any one moment because each piece of information on each of these pieces of paper is more amazing than the last. I can‘t stop.
We may have the makings of another upset of an establishment Republican candidate in tonight‘s primaries. This time, we‘re talking about New Hampshire. In a crowded Republican primary field vying for the Senate seat that Judd Gregg is vacating, Ovide Lamontagne is leading former state attorney general, Kelly Ayotte.
As it stands right now, with 30 percent of precincts reporting, Ovide Lamontagne up over Kelly Ayotte, 41 to 38 percent. Now, again, only 30 percent in. But should Mr. Lamontagne win, the Republican Party would find themselves in perhaps another pickle—similar to what they‘re now facing in Delaware. Like Christine O‘Donnell, Mr. Lamontagne is expected to have more difficulty attracting moderate and independent voters than Kelly Ayotte would. And that would make the smiles on the faces of Democrats in the state and nationwide tonight get even wider.
Joining us now is Nate Silver of the “FiveThirtyEight” blog at NewYorkTimes.com.
Nate, thanks again for your time.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT BLOG: Yes. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In terms of this Lamontagne race, last week, you at “FiveThirtyEight” said that the Republicans had a one-in-four chance, a 26 percent chance, of taking back the Senate. Tell us, big picture, if were tonight‘s results go the way they look they‘re going to go, what the update is on that.
SILVER: Well, we‘d down to about 15 percent if Lamontagne goes ahead and wins in New Hampshire, where they‘re taking a long time to count the vote I might add.
SILVER: But, you know, certainly, the race in Delaware, where now you‘re not going to have that race even funded by the NRSC, which is smart, I think, by the way, because they have better opportunities now, relatively speaking, in a state like West Virginia or Connecticut. Not their first-tier or second-tier targets. But, you know, Delaware has become like a fourth-tier target.
She is in enough trouble where I think they‘d almost rather kind of not give her a stage and a microphone and let, you know, the reasonable alternatives they might have in West Virginia say in a state that‘s turned very red—although you have very popular Democratic incumbent governor running, that seems like a better chance for them now to get to 51 seats in the Senate.
MADDOW: So, you are referring, again, to this news that we just got -
“Wall Street Journal” reporting that the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the part of the Republican Party that funds Senate candidates, has not had very good luck with their chosen candidates in primaries so far. They do not plan to spend money on the Delaware Senate nominee, Christine O‘Donnell. The one caveat is that the official noted the “Wall Street Journal” that if O‘Donnell‘s position improves, the committee might reconsider its allocation of scarce resources.
Does that mean we should expect a lot of partisan polling going in there to try to justify her?
SILVER: You know, there are some polling firms, I supposed, on both sides, who kind of reliably seem to come out with a pulled that motivates their base at certain times. And so, you know, I think, after any primary, you probably want to wait a week or two weeks before you can really trust any poll that you see. Sometimes, there‘s a balance or even like an anti-balance based on the results of the primary, certain voters are upset or encouraged.
Of course, you have such a kind of compressed time frame in Delaware. That‘s another reason why it‘s maybe not the best fight for them because they haven‘t really laid any groundwork yet to get a positive kind of Christine O‘Donnell message out there.
You‘re going to be—you know, two weeks from now, we‘re practically in October. Meanwhile, there are more than a dozen competitive Senate races elsewhere in the country. Obviously, the House, you have kind of an infinite number, you know, probably 90 or 100 even kind of competitive seats.
So, you know, I think they help—you know, maybe they are angry yet at the conservative activists tonight. But I think, this is one where if they‘re smart, they‘ll frankly probably talk it up to as a defeat and go ahead and pursue the other paths to take the Senate. And certainly, the multitude of paths and the probability they have is still probably of taking the House.
MADDOW: Do you expect, briefly, that Lamontagne—if Lamontagne beats Ayotte in New Hampshire—will it have as big an effect as the O‘Donnell over Castle victory in Delaware? Or is that not as stark a choice for the NRSC there?
SILVER: No, it‘s not a stark. I mean, he is a guy who is more conservative, but, you know, endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008. So, he‘s not someone who‘s really what you would say is on the extreme.
But also, she had a pretty large led. She led actually in every single poll of that race for more than a year. Whereas, he hasn‘t—he‘s trailed in more polls than he has against Paul Hodes. So, you‘re taking your risk there, but may be that‘s kind of a more organic kind of thing.
Whereas, in Delaware, they really went off-script, right? Which often happens when you actually have people vote and don‘t just look at polls, right?
SILVER: And don‘t believe kind of narrative that you hear in the press, right? Sometimes, the voters go off-script surprisingly often. And they actually create real news and not horse race stuff.
MADDOW: Off-script, off-chart, off-cliff—all sorts of things can happen. Nate Silver of the “FiveThirtyEight” blog at NewYorkTimes.com—thanks for staying up late with us, Nate. I really appreciate it.
SILVER: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: It has been a remarkable night in American politics. Our coverage continues in just a moment. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: As we approach midnight here on the East Coast, the end of the day, the last major primary day in this year‘s election, a reminder of just how extraordinary these primaries and by extension, this election year are turning out to be.
Tea party favorite Christine O‘Donnell is now officially the Republican Party‘s nominee for Senate, defeating Republican Congressman Mike Castle tonight who had never before lost an election.
In New York, another major upset in the Republican governor‘s race. Carl Paladino has defeated fellow Republican Rick Lazio in that race. The Tea Party supporting Paladino with some alarming policies in his platform, most notably, that he wants to send welfare recipients for personal hygiene to state prisons. He‘s arguably best known for a rash of really hard-core pornographic and racist e-mails he sent to friends and political associates. Those emails made public by a western New York media publication.
Mr. Paladino is saying in his victory speech tonight, “They say I am an angry man, and that‘s true. We‘re all angry.”
Also, in New Hampshire tonight, the House Democratic primary for New Hampshire‘s second district, “The A.P.” projecting that progressive Annie Kuster has defeated Blue Dog Democrat Katrina Swett.
Back in New York, “The A.P.” is also projecting that embattled Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel will hold onto his House seat tonight with, if it holds, a majority in a six-way race. Right now, with 56 percent of precincts reporting, he‘s up at 52 percent.
A remarkable night and a remarkable primary season and what is turning out to be a remarkable election year.
All that was missing for me here tonight was the popcorn, but I‘m going to go have that now.
A special live edition of “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now. Stay with us. Good night.
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