Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 24, 2009

BUNNING THREATENS NRSC LAWSUIT.... In light of Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-Ky.) increasingly erratic behavior, and likelihood of defeat next year, the Republican establishment has practically been begging Bunning to retire. So far, he's only responded angrily and refused to back down.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, worried about losing a winnable seat in a deep "red" state, is quietly making alternate arrangements. Just this past weekend, NRSC officials met with State Senate President David Williams (R) over the weekend, apparently to talk about a primary challenge to Bunning.

Today, Bunning said he's prepared to sue his party.

Sen. Jim Bunning is vowing to fight back as his feud with Republican leadership over his 2010 re-election bid spills into the national political scene.

If Republican campaign organizations tried to recruit another candidate to run in Bunning's stead, "I would have a suit against the (National Republican Senatorial Committee) if they did that," Bunning told reporters on Tuesday. "In their bylaws, support of the incumbents is the only reason they exist."

For what it's worth, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn of Texas said the party would back Bunning in a contested primary, just as it would with any incumbent. But in some ways, Bunning is missing the point. The NRSC doesn't have to officially throw its backing (and resources) to a primary opponent; it will probably just signal its support for the challenger, making it clear to the Republican rank and file that Bunning has lost the respect and support of his party.

By threatening a lawsuit, Bunning is making the NRSC's job easier, reinforcing fears that the senator's behavior has become something of an embarrassment.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

Repub clown show just keeps weirder.

Posted by: Cash on February 24, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

If Bunning is correct that the NRSC exists to support incumbents (I have no idea), then I don't think he's being erratic at all. In fact, this may be one of the most sane and lucid things he's said in years..

Posted by: Jon B. on February 24, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact, this may be one of the most sane and lucid things he's said in years.."

That's obviously a low standard to meet. That said, this should be a fun fight. On the Battlefield of Insanity, this is truly the Clash of the Titans. May the craziest man win.

Posted by: fostert on February 24, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Let the wingnuts bankrupt themselves suing each other. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch!

Posted by: Sam Simple on February 24, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Pass the popcorn!

Posted by: Marko on February 24, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh thou bleak and unbearable world,
Thou art base and debauched as can be;
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!

Posted by: Michael7843853 on February 24, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

More like this, please.

Posted by: Monty on February 24, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

If Bunning is correct that the NRSC exists to support incumbents

The NRSC ran a pretty hefty primary campaign against Chaffee in RI a few years ago. I'm not sure if they got involved in the 2004 Specter/Toomey primary or not. Normally the Senate Committees don't begin their overt support until after the primaries, but Bunning might as well start forecasting his own demise.

Posted by: Danp on February 24, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Better than a lawsuit, Bunning should threaten to run as an independent if he loses his primary.

Posted by: Marko on February 24, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be amazing if the NRSC were to primary Arlen Specter, but ignore Bunning and support Vittner. Sends an interesting message about he state of the GOP.

Posted by: Kathy on February 24, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

How litigious! Trial lawyers run amok! And to think just a few years ago, Bunning was warning of the dangers of letting patients sue for malpractice. In 2001, he said, "I don't see how making it easier for [patients] to sue is going to help anyone except the lawyers." See: http://tinyurl.com/am8oq2

Posted by: Miki on February 24, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure if they got involved in the 2004 Specter/Toomey primary or not."

They did the smart thing and backed Specter. The Club for Growth backed Toomey, and will again.

Posted by: fostert on February 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm of a mind with Sam Simple. Let him sue. It sounds like he's got a case. If it's true that their bylaws require them to support the incumbent, then they'll have a tough time trying to argue that "support" only means "funding" and not "avoiding actively recruiting challengers."

Posted by: C.S. on February 24, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

they'll have a tough time trying to argue that "support" only means "funding" and not "avoiding actively recruiting challengers"

Shouldn't be a problem at all - if you're a Republican!

Posted by: Marko on February 24, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

GOP, meet Frankenstein.

Posted by: PS on February 24, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Cornyn had a lick of sense (Texas Republicans are notoriously famous for not having this, though, so I'll not hold my breath, if you don't mind), he'd simply say to Bunning, "You're too freaking off the deep end, even for us, so you're out of the Party!" Then---even if he still is "the incumbent"---Bunning has no legitimate claim to NRSC support, and the GOP is immediately free to throw its full weight behind a ripe-for-a-thrashing rookie....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 24, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Pass the popcorn!

BTW, how does this "bylaw" comport with threatening Snowe, Collins and Specter?

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 24, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure what the basis for a lawsuit would be, unless the NRSC has some kind of contractual relationship with individual incumbent senators. Perhaps Bunning is confusing the concepts of 'laws' and 'bylaws'. However, I agree that his better move would be to threaten to run as an independent if the NRSC insits on trying to recruit a saner candidate.

Posted by: dcsusie on February 24, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

How absolutely delicious.

Posted by: shortstop on February 24, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The senate Republicans have been watching to many Monty Python re-runs.

Posted by: DAY on February 24, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I would think that the RNSC isn't required to actually provide any money, speakers, etc. for Bunning's primary campaign; rather, they are simply prohibited from providing any such support to any opponent of Bunning's in the primary?
No matter; it's still a very enlightening commentary on the present state of the Republican Party.

Posted by: Doug on February 24, 2009 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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