Shunning: The New GOP Mantra

If anyone was ever looking for words to describe today's typical Republican Party politician, the ones that first come to mind are rigid and lockstep. Republicans never depart from a fixed agenda nor do they allow any elected official to go off the reservation on any issue.

But, there is a new word that has crept into the Republican lexicon; it's called "shunning." Webster's dictionary defines it as "an act of deliberately avoiding association with him or her." It also is described as "the act of getting or keeping away from something undesirable."

To date, three Republicans have been subjected to shunning by their fellow party members. At the top of the list are Christine O'Donnell, Lisa Murkowski and Carl Paladino. O'Donnell is the party candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware. Thanks to the Tea Party, O'Donnell defeated popular Congressman Mike Castle in the September primary.

No well-known elected Republican has endorsed or even been willing to stand on the same platform with her. Lots of campaign contributions have been handed to at least 12 GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate, but other than an initial contribution of $42,000, O'Donnell has received nothing from the party bigwigs.

Senator Lisa Murkowski has also won the distinction of being persona non grata in the Republican ranks. Murkowski lost the party nomination to run for re-election in September to another Tea Party candidate Joel Miller. Miller had the blessings of Sara Palin as part of her continuing feud with the Alaska establishment.

After some serious reflection, Murkowski announced that she would seek re-election as a write-in candidate. Before she could get back to Washington the Republican Party leaders stripped her of her legislative titles and perks. In the old days, sitting members got loyalty at all costs. Under today's rules, however, excommunication is the new order of the day.

The third member of the group targeted for shunning is Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for Governor. Paladino chose to take on the party designee Rick Lazio and won the nomination with strong Tea Party support. On the way to a successful primary campaign Paladino managed to alienate every major New York Republican Party figure, starting with former Governor George Pataki.

Most of the Republican candidates for governor around the country have been showered with campaign cash. Even though New York State is a Democratic stronghold, a candidate with the party's blessing might get some funds and technical support. However, Paladino was not the party leader's choice and he, too, will learn first hand what the word 'shun' means.

There is a fascinating piece of the decision to literally excommunicate the three candidates and probably others who are not on the media radar. The Delaware Senate seat is a coveted prize and could add to the party's chances of taking control of the Senate. Up until primary day, Chris Coons, the Democrat designated for the seat, assumed that Congressman Castle was the odds-on favorite and was prepared to do nothing. Much to Coons' surprise, it is he who is now the favorite.

If the Republican Party gave financial support to O'Donnell, then there is a chance that the Tea Party movement might be able to help her get elected. Nevertheless, having beat the party favorite, the word came forth that she is to get no help from the party machine. A GOP infusion of cash to Lisa Murkowski could probably keep her in the Senate with her non-traditional write-in campaign.

There is very little chance that Carl Paladino can unseat Democrat Andrew Cuomo in a very Democratic state, although there is more than the Governor's mansion at stake. Paladino has the potential to suppress the Republican voter turnout and hurt candidates running in state legislative and congressional races.

So the orders are out there - whether written or verbal - to shun O'Donnell, Murkowski and Paladino, and in the GOP everybody obeys orders.