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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

2014: Triumph Of The Buckley Rule, Suspension of the Limbaugh Corollary

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The Buckley Rule, named for William F. Buckley Jr., counsels voters to cast their ballots for the most conservative Republican who could win in November.

The Limbaugh Corollary seems to add the requirement that voters allow for modern campaigns to make up perceived gaps that put more conservative candidates behind more moderate candidates early in an election cycle.

The Limbaugh corollary carries high returns –Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz– when it works.  Bad losses when it doesn’t –Christine O’Donnnell v. Mike Castle being the most prominent example.

It seems to me that in this cycle the GOP electorate is overwhelmingly endorsing the Buckley Rule and is risk averse to the Limbaugh Corollary, which seems suspended pending a safer America in which the urgency of electing a GOP Senate and as many GOP governors as possible in 2014 to do the most to stop the terrible effects of the deadly combination of President Obama’s ideology, incompetence, and contempt for the rule of law.

Thus Thad Cochran’s win in Mississippi and Bob Beauprez’s triumph in Colorado.  I also think the same set of circumstances will power Jack Kingston to the GOP nomination for Senate in Georgia and Doug Ducey into the finals of Arizona’s race to replace Jan Brewer in the statehouse.  Both Kingston and Ducey are trough-going conservatives who can win in a walk, and who will govern as reformers in the case of Ducey and as an internationalist pro-defense senator like Marco Rubio when it comes to Kingston.

The GOP is close to having made it through the entire 2014 primary cycle without allowing Democrats to foist on them a gaffe-prone candidate who could cripple candidates across the country.  Great news for the GOP and the country.  bad news for President Obama and Harry Reid.

When will a willingness to embrace the Limbaugh Corollary return?  When the country is through this very dangerous period.  How dangerous is it?  Just read yesterday’s interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney to get a sense of that.

Truth be told, we need both the Buckley Rule and the Limbaugh Corollary because the latter makes the former work to keep conservatives conservative.  The losses of 2010 and 2012 that resulted from lousy candidates and campaigns didn’t repeal either rule but rather argues for their very careful consideration in every cycle and every race, which is what the GOP is doing this time around.

And when two great conservatives run against each other –as was the case in Oklahoma– bet on the candidate with the deeper grassroots network and retail politics experience, as was the case with James Lankford, soon to be Oklahoma’s new senator, and a great one in time.  T.W. Shannon will be back in national politics soon –he is too talented not to be, but Lankford is a superstar in the making who is helping the GOP reload on talent in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

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