Let’s give credit where it’s due. The Democrats’ creation of the person known to the world as Tim Donnelly was a masterstroke. I don’t know if it was Ace or Lehane or the boys at Google, and I don’t want to know. I don’t know if the fellow running around the state is an advanced, lifelike robot – or just an actor giving a bravura performance. But whoever created Tim Donnelly deserve the eternal gratitude of the Democratic party. The Donnelly project is genius – even real Republicans and media are treating him as an authentic candidate.

Of course, anyone who is paying attention knows that Donnelly is a Democratic plant. He’s the embodiment of the caricature that every Democrat wants the world to think of when the world thinks of a Republican. Willing to push the country off the cliff fiscally to save it. Out of step with the future on social issues. A Minuteman past. He has a talent for quotes and hijinks that make him catnip to the media, and is sure to cause problems for mainstream Republican candidates. Donnelly is the sort of Republican you create to make sure that Republicans never win another election in California.

The Republicans themselves could never create such a person – they’re not organized enough and he’s too crazy for them. For such a creature to exist, the enemies of Republicans would have to invent him.

But as an appreciator of this invention, I fear that the Democrats running Donnelly may be going overboard. I’m thinking about the gun range appearance – it went too far. Yes, portraying Republicans as gun nuts helps the Democrat cause. But having the guy on probation for a gun issue fire off a gun in apparent violation of his probation – that jumped the shark. It was too crazy. It could backfire (sorry about the pun).

The Democrats who had Donnelly do that are trying to obliterate their opponents – not merely keep them around as a mostly irrelevant minority. Democrats should remember that they need Republicans to retain enough strength to be a credible minority party statewide.

If Democrats go ahead and destroy Republicans entirely, they’ll create a void. And that void could be filled by iconoclastic, super-rich independents who could jump into races, make elections even more costly, and even beat a few Democrats. Such independents can be dangerous if you give them oxygen. (If you don’t see the danger, just say the words, “Such independents can be dangerous” in an Austrian accent).

So a note to Donnelly’s Democratic handlers. Be careful not to yank the puppet too hard. People might be able to see the strings.