Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2010, citing his inability to raise sufficient campaign funds and interference from members of his own party.
From April through June, Bunning has raised less than half the total funds of Trey Grayson, the Kentucky Secretary of State who has been eyeing Bunning's seat. Bunning barely won re-election in 2004, and he has publicly disagreed with Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on multiple occasions.
Bunning did not support many of the bailouts and exhuberent spending that was prevalent in the later years of the Bush administration, which placed him at odds with higher-ups within the Republican Party. The GOP had control of Congress until 2006, and George W. Bush spent 2000-08 in the White House.
In short, Bunning didn't support the Republican agenda 100 percent, so members of the party did everything they could to covertly sabotage any re-election effort. It's not a new theme; Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) left the GOP earlier this year when it became clear to him the Republicans would back his opponent in the Republican primary.
Again, Specter wasn't lock-step with the Republicans, so they decided to get someone else in his seat.
Bunning's annoncement reveals one of the larger issues facing the GOP in today's political climate: whereas the Democrats don't jettison those who disagree on certain issues (though given how the Blue Dogs are scuffling their feet on health care reform, some might want to), the Republicans are making sure anyone who has the audacity to not blindly follow party lines is branded with a scarlet letter of sorts -- and it's probably not an R.
Conservative (and certafiably insane) radio host Rush Limbaugh pretty much helped kick Specter out the door when he made his announcement, and has also criticized RNC chair Michael Steele and former Secretary of State Colin Powell for not being "real Republicans."
What did Steele and Powell do to bring about such bluster? Steele said Limbaugh was wrong ... only to crawl over to FOX News and apologize when Mr. Bouncey-Bounce threw an on-air tantrum. Powell criticized his own party for its potentially racist and needlessly disagreeable agenda ... and Limbaugh claimed Powell wasn't a "real Republican."
Moral of the story? If you have an R after your name, you better not think for yourself. The higher-ups in the GOP (and I do mean "higher-ups," given Limbaugh's battle with prescription painkillers) want all their little kids -- well, the ones who are left -- to tow the party line, and there are consequences if they don't.
Bunning was one such casualty.
Say what you want about former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean ... he never ran his party in this manner (and for that matter, neither is current DNC head Tim Kaine). Sure, he gave the Blue Dogs hell last night when he came on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC (video below), but he's not throwing anyone out because they disagree.
More importantly, he's not having some self-important mouthpiece do it for him.