I said that earlier this year. Here’s a case study: Henry Cuellar:The Angry Left takes on a moderate Democrat–and loses
One figure in that contest was Henry Cuellar, a centrist Democratic lawmaker from Laredo. He’d figured prominently in the Republican Party’s outreach to Texas Hispanics; he crossed party lines in 2000 to support then-Gov. George Bush’s presidential candidacy and later served as secretary of state for Mr. Bush’s successor, Rick Perry. That didn’t prevent Mr. Cuellar, however, from running a highly competitive race in 2002 against GOP incumbent Henry Bonilla for the District 23 congressional seat. Mr. Cuellar received crucial support from Texas Democrats, including long-time friend Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, the incumbent in neighboring District 28.
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The endorsement and the image were widely disseminated, igniting a nationwide liberal campaign to defeat Mr. Cuellar. Influential bloggers Markos “Kos” Moulitsas and Duncan “Atrios” Black led the charge, joined by kindred Web sites. As much as $500,000 poured into Mr. Rodriguez’s coffers during the final six weeks of electioneering. Liberals touted the effort as the ultimate mobilization of the “netroots”–the indomitable synthesis of grassroots organization with digital potency.
In the March 7 primary, Mr. Cuellar won with 53% of the vote to Mr. Rodriguez’s 41% (a third candidate taking the rest). He increased his margin of victory over Mr. Rodriguez in 2004 in 10 out of 11 counties, besting his principal opponent by nearly 5,600 votes–despite the efforts of the netroots activists. “A lot of energy and money was wasted in the Democratic primary that could have been used to defeat Republicans in November,” says Colin Strother, a general consultant for Mr. Cuellar’s campaign. “The netroots people took their eyes off the ball–taking the House back from the Republicans,” he says. “They only knew one picture . . They knew nothing about the district.”
Blogger Moulitsas is unapologetic. “So we didn’t kill off Cuellar,” he wrote in an entry on his blog, “but we gave him an [black] whooping where none was expected and made him sweat. That’s the reason why Lieberman is sweating in Connecticut,” referring to another netroots challenge against another centrist Democrat.
And what was Cuellar’s fatal flaw?
in January, the conservative Club for Growth endorsed Mr. Cuellar, its first ever Democratic endorsement. And as President Bush entered the House chamber for the State of the Union address, cameras captured his hearty embrace of Mr. Cuellar.
The truth is that liberals can’t stand independent thinking.