Tom Osborne ran as an Independent. He sought endorsements from well-known Democrats (and prochoice advocates) such as Warren Buffett. His campaign actively sought registered Democrats to switch parties.
He didn’t take a Republican position on the illegal immigrant / in-state tuition issue. He didn’t seek the endorsement of the NRA. He initially didn’t take any position on the
During his years as the 3rd District Congressman, voters thought they knew who he was. He was coach Tom, Republican, Man of Integrity. But during the campaign, they found out that he was Tom the Independent, who was now willing to go negative ham-handedly on his opponent. He broke Ronald Reagan’s law of Say-No-Evil-of-Republicans.
Republicans still like Tom the Coach. They want to remember Tom the Coach. But Republicans didn’t want Tom the Independent.
Tom Osborne forgot that he was running in the Republican Primary, and not the General Election. General Election voters may have gone his way on that platform.
Republican voters wanted to vote for a Republican.