Add to that the likelihood that Coons will be a strong ally of the Democratic leadership in new spending proposals. He has supported all the big ones -- stimulus, bailouts, Obamacare -- and recently Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Coons is his favorite Senate candidate. "He's my pet," Reid told the Hill newspaper. (A chagrined McElhatton was reduced to protesting that "Chris is not anyone's pet.")
Put it all together, and could central casting have come up with a better Democrat for a Republican to run against? "We believe that Chris Coons, with his record of raising taxes, has shown throughout his career that he would rather take orders and directives from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid than do what is right for Delaware and the country," says state GOP spokesman Thomas Doheny.
Some Republicans argue that O'Donnell, given her own tax lien from 2005, can't make that argument. Maybe not. But it's just as likely she will receive some sympathy for her problems with the IRS -- she says she did nothing wrong -- and besides, Delaware voters might well care more about their own taxes than Christine O'Donnell's.
At the moment, though, top Republicans are still beside themselves over O'Donnell's primary win. Two days later, Delaware state GOP chairman Tom Ross, an O'Donnell foe, pledged support for "our candidates" but couldn't bring himself to mention O'Donnell's name. National party officials are scrambling to back down from their initial snub of her. Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen poll shows O'Donnell 11 points behind Coons -- a significant margin, but not insurmountable.
Can party officials put aside their unhappiness and campaign hard for their elected nominee? Even in Delaware, there has probably never been a better year for a flawed candidate on the right side of the issues. Why not try to win?