It takes a lot, but there are lines not to be crossed

IT TAKES A LOT, BUT THERE ARE LINES NOT TO BE CROSSED…. When it comes to the midterm elections, and with both parties desperate to win as many races as possible, it seems Republicans are willing to put up with quite a bit.

Sharron Angle’s record of unhinged rhetoric hasn’t interfered with her support from the GOP. The same is true of the extremism of Rand Paul and Christine O’Donnell. Ken Buck, Joe Miller, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson, Carl Paladino, and Tom Emmer can say and do all kind of bizarre things, but they nevertheless enjoy the enthusiastic support of the Republican Party.

Is there no limit? As it turns out, we’re witnessing a good test in New York’s 18th congressional district, where Jim Russell, a Christian conservative author/activist, is the Republican nominee challenging on Rep. Nita Lowey (D). It’s not expected to be an especially competitive contest, but Russell has nevertheless made a name for himself.

Politico discovered this week that Russell’s published works for a racist publication have included criticism of inter-racial marriage, school integration, Jews, and African Americans, while offering praise for texts popular with white supremacists.

Yesterday, the New York Republican Party took steps to distance itself from its party’s congressional candidate.

[State party spokesperson Alex Carey told Salon] GOP leaders were not previously aware of Russell’s essay, adding, “We strongly condemn all of Jim’s comments and certainly stand by none of what he wrote, which was racist and ethnocentric.”

He said that the chair of the GOP in Westchester County is going to meet with Russell soon, “and if he can explain this somehow they’re going to continue looking into this — and if he can’t they’ll cut him loose.” Carey said that even if the GOP drops Russell from its line on the ballot, he will still be a candidate.

Given all that we’ve seen this year, it’s good to know there are at least some lines that can’t be crossed.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.