While the GOP would like to lose this guy from the ticket in 2010, he refuses to disappear. His response to strong hints from the Republican Party that they won't help him in his reelection campaign is to intimate that, if the GOP annoys him, he'll resign and let the Democratic governor of Kentucky name a Democrat as a replacement to give the Democrats an even 60 senators. Charming.
Now, if the Senate GOP leadership continued to make it difficult for him to raise money, he would have the “last laugh,” and then added that Kentucky’s governor was a Democrat, a source recalled Bunning saying.Just what we want - a guy who isn't ready to make rational decisions.
The implication that he would resign was talked about by “several people” after the event, the source said.
The remarks stunned his listeners, the source said.
“Why would he say that?” attendees asked each other, according to the source.
One source said he contacted a Bunning campaign official and warned, “This is going to get out — there were 15 to 20 people who heard this and it’s newsworthy.”
“It’s not because he’s old and senile — he’s always been like that. He’ll tell you what he thinks,” the source said.
But Bunning’s resistance to retirement is “sad to see,” the source said.
“The problem I see with all this media attention is, it just makes him more stubborn rather than make him ready to make a rational decision,” the source said.
Jay Cost has been blogging about how the Jim Bunning situation points to why we would benefit from stronger parties who would have the power to ease Bunning out and bring in a stronger candidate - one that is less of a whack job. Cost argues for reform of the primary process in order to give parties more power to weed out weak incumbents who are desperately clinging to their position.
This is one big reason I do not understand why partisans on both sides suffer the primary process. It has become one of many mechanisms that effectively guarantee incumbents will be on the general election ballot. What this means, in turn, is that the party usually has to tolerate guys like Don Sherwood, Stevens, and Bunning. There is no "low cost" way for Republicans to hold their incumbents accountable, which means only the Democrats do. And the same goes with Democrats when their incumbents behave badly.It's a nice solution that other political scientists might endorse, but no actual politicians would dare come out and take a position that would be caricatured as a vote for more smoke-filled rooms - newly smoke-free, of course - in place of the people's choice. However, incumbents have such strong advantages that it is a rare incumbent who is defeated in political primaries. Bunning may be able to achieve that distinction if he keeps up embarrassing himself each time he opens his mouth while threatening to turn the Senate over to the Democrats. That can't be a popular position to be defending withing Republican primaries.
Simply put, primaries are good for politicians, bad for the parties, and therefore bad for the tens of millions of people who sympathize with one party or the other. For all the talk that I hear from partisans about keeping their leaders accountable, I hardly hear any discussion about the primaries - and how inefficient they are at keeping them in line. Once a politician wins election, it becomes much more difficult for the party to make him responsible to the party. And in the case of a guy like Bunning, most Republicans have probably been reduced to praying that he'll just drop out - that's how little power they have over their elected officials.
So, despite his inborn incumbency advantages, Bunning may open his big mouth just enough to help a worthy challenger defeat him in a party primary. Surely Mitch McConnell can find some other Republican who could take on this dodo.