Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Life, Death and Life of Moderate Republicans?

In the wake of Arlen Specter's defection to the Democrats, we've heard a lot about the death of moderate Republicans, especially the sterotypical Northeastern Republican. CNN, did an "autopsy" of the lamented "liberal Republican."

But then on the same day, I read an article in Politico, where John Cornyn, the GOP Senator from Texas and Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is working to recruit "Specter-like" candidates in different parts of the country. We also read that two moderate Republican canididates won local elections in Alexandria, Virginia in what could be a future strategy for the GOP to use in urban areas.

So, what's going on here? Are moderate Republicans a dying breed, or are they just sleeping?



b1gdon said...

For now, I would have to say, yes as a power in the GOP they are dead. It was just announced today that Ridge won't run for PA Sen reportedly because he doesn't want to pass an ideological litmus test.

I say for now though because once the GOP has been shut out of power, they like the Dems in the 2000s will start to find ways to bring them back into the party. They will, as you noted, look for moderates to run in blue districts, like Rahm did for the Dems. More importantly, the independent right wing groups tired of having no power won't fund and run hard right candidates. In the primaries conservative voters will value capability to win a general election greater than ideological purity.

Unfortunately it will probably take a couple election cycles of losses to drive home the message, although the likely bloodbath (too many open seats and tight races this cycle) in the 2010 Senate races may accelerate it.

democraticpitbull said...

Arlen Specter's loss is monumental. Granted, he was not liked or respected by the arch conservative wing of the GOP, but at the end of the day, Specter was loyal to the party. He supported Bush twice, and you can bet that he disagreed with most of his policies. He never went the Zell Miller route. His decision to switch parties was based on his ability to be re-elected but he was pushed to the limit by the national Republicans. When he announced his switch, he pointed out how several moderate Republicans were forced to face primary challenges and eventually were defeated by Democratic candidates. The GOP have the same problem right now that the Democrats have had for years. And they're going to have a hard time fixing it.