Jim Ogonowski in Massachusetts was one of the top NRSC recruits for this cycle. An Air Force veteran and brother of one of the pilots who died in the 9/11 tragedy, Ogonowski lost a surprisingly close election for the U.S. House in 2007 to Democrat Niki Tsongas.
Ogonowski's six-point loss to Tsongas, whose husband was the beloved former Congressman and Senator Paul Tsongas, led the NRSC to believe that Ogonowski might just be the man to take down another Massachusetts institution, 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry.
Now, defeating 24-year incumbents who were very nearly elected President of the United States on their overwhelmingly Democratic home turf is never easy. But so feeble is the Republican condition these days that Ogonowski was heralded as a recruiting heist.
NRSC chairman John Ensign raved about his new would-be golden boy, in the absence of anybody else to rave about:
"We have a tremendous person running in Massachusetts. Ogonowski, if you don’t know him I encourage you to get to know him. He is exactly the type of person, that a grassroots campaign can carry to victory, he is very infectious, he has a great story to tell, he is literally a dark horse, it’s a blue state, Kerry has a lot of money, if Ogonowski can get resources, we really think that he can be a very serious candidate, he can come across the finish line in November of this year..."
And what was the return on the NRSC's investment in their new phenom?
And the icing on the cake...Ogonowski couldn't even garner enough signatures to get on the Republican ballot.
Though he tried to fight the inevitable for a few days, the Golden Boy has come to grips with reality:
"I have made my decision regarding the future of this U.S. Senate race," he said. "Clearly, we had some issues this week regarding signatures. Mistakes were made along the way. But any good military officer knows that when you are in command, the responsibility is yours alone. The buck stops with me and I take that responsibility.
"There has been and will continue to be a lot of Monday morning quarter-backing and people trying to figure out what happened. But, the truth is, it doesn’t matter. We could play that game all day long. But the facts are the facts. For a variety of reasons, we did not meet the signature requirements. And at this time, I have decided not to pursue this endeavor.
This was the great Republican prize, the man whom Ensign vowed would make it "across the finish line" in November. Well, he made it all the way to the first week of June.
This "tremendous candidate" proved so tremendous that he couldn't meet even the merest requirements for even the smallest of bleating sacrificial lambs.
This was the reward the Golden Boy gave the NRSC.
I must say, the NRCC and NRSC this cycle have been so jaw-droppingly incompetent and ineffective that they would make Inspector Clouseau blush.
As a party, we are extremely fortunate that national Republican leadership, from the president on down, is one of the worst collections of staggering stumble bums ever assembled and lampooned at the head of a serious political party.