The Other McCain

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Virginia Feud: Radtke vs. Red State UPDATE: Palin/Perry ‘Proxy War’?

Posted on | August 24, 2011 | 55 Comments

My co-blogger Smitty is a Virginian who first blogged here about Jamie Radtke, the Tea Party candidate in next year’s Republican primary to replace retiring one-term Democrat Sen. Jim Webb. In July, I added my own two cents in support of Radtke, writing:

Her biggest obstacle is overcoming the GOP Establishment’s support for former Sen. George Allen. While many conservatives know and admire Allen personally, Radtke’s grassroots campaign offers an opportunity to carry forward into 2012 the Tea Party momentum that helped Republicans retake the House in 2010.

The blog is therefore clearly in the Radtke camp. However, we harbor no hostility toward Allen or his supporters — whose ranks we will happily join if the former senator should prevail in the primary. Our forthright support for Radtke is a luxury afforded by our independence, a luxury that some others might envy:

Ben Smith at Politico today reports that Erick Erickson of Red State backed off his early endorsement of Jamie Radtke — a Tea Party-backed candidate in the Republican primary for next year’s Senate race in Virginia — because of what Erickson called “the long term relationship” between former Sen. George Allen and Red State’s corporate owner, Eagle Publishing.

You can read the Politico story — based in part on e-mails obtained from Radtke’s campaign — and feel Erick’s pain. He was caught in a conflict between what he wanted to do (back Radtke against the GOP Establishment) and what his bosses wanted to do (support their long-time friend Senator Allen). Now, however, Erickson has doubled down against Radtke — and against Radtke’s campaign manager, Carter Wrenn, a veteran conservative who is legendarily known as a take-no-prisoners operative. There’s already a Memeorandum thread, so it’s time to pop some popcorn if you enjoy a bloody internecine knife-fight.

Erickson obviously isn’t happy that Radtke went public with this controversy, but as I say at The American Spectator, “there is nothing wrong with corporate publishers exercising editorial oversight.”

My bosses at the Spectator are friends with Erickson’s bosses at Eagle Publishing and, for all I know, share their enthusiasm for Allen’s GOP primary campaign. That would not pose a conflict of interest, though, because my bosses have never demanded that I take sides in the race or told me to back off my support for Radtke. They pay me to report the facts, and my opinions here are entirely my own.


UPDATE: Things are getting incredibly weird now. Erickson is blaming Dan Riehl for the Politico story. Among the several non-combatants who have called me about this escalating weirdness — comments running the gamut from “WTF?” to “Uh, oh — he’s going after Carter Wrenn” — one caller just suggested that this is actually a “proxy war” involving Sarah Palin’s supporters (who are hoping she will endorse Radtke) vs. Erickson’s faction who have swung their support behind Rick Perry.

UPDATE II: Dave Weigel dogpiles, but doesn’t seem to get the nuance and backstory, especially the seriousness of Erickson more or less calling Carter Wrenn’s candidate a drunk.

For evidence of the “proxy war” theory, see Palin’s famous fan Tammy Bruce on Twitterhere, here, here and here, for example.

UPDATE III: “This is about as ugly an event as you could imagine,” writes Tom White at Virginia Right.