Friday, May 15, 2009

When the Good is the Enemy of the Perfect

The base of the Republican Party is making a clear message: only candidates that fit our criteria can run for office.

Senator John Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is hardly moderate Republican. However, as head of the group that helps get Republicans elected, his goal to get more Republicans in the Senate. Since the Republicans are about a senator short of losing filibuster power, Cornyn is more than willing to be pragmatic in who they are willing to support in the upcoming mid-terms in 2010. Cornyn supported Flordia Governor Charlie Crist in his bid to replace Mel Martinez in the Senate next year.

That has not pleased the purists in the GOP. Real Republican Majority notes that groups and bloggers on the far right are not pleased with Cornyn's willingness to support moderates and are calling for a boycott of the NRSC. This is what Real Real Republican Majority has to say about the whole issue:

Today, it appears that RedState is
answering Daily Kos’s plea for help. RedState, a conservative blog that touches
on a number of issues, including some that RRM agrees on and others we don’t,
has asked its readers and members to boycott donating to the National Republican
Senatorial Committee until Sen. John Cornyn (TX) steps down. Their reasoning is
that the NRSC is supporting primary candidates, such as Florida Governor Charlie
Crist, and had supported Senator Arlen Specter when he was still a member of the
GOP over former Rep. Pat Toomey.

The NRSC has had a long policy of supporting incumbents over challengers,
which Cornyn reiterated while being asked about Toomey's challenge before the
Specter switch. However, RedState seems to be far more upset that Crist is being
supported by the NRSC over Marco Rubio, the former FL House Speaker who is much
more extremist in his views. RedState is charging that Crist is “abandoning his
Governor’s seat to Democrats”- to challenging Rubio, who is a “rising Republican
star” (Crist being an established, popular Republican star).

The post by Dan McLuaghlin at RedState is one that seems to take place in some alternate reality, where true conservatives, who could win, you know, are being shut out by feckless moderates:

Moderate Republicans can complain all they want about the Pat Toomey primary challenge to Arlen Specter, but make no mistake: in this race, it’s the moderate picking a fight to muscle out a conservative in a state where there is no serious question that conservatives have won and can continue to win races statewide...

...John Cornyn has proven that he has learned absolutely nothing from the fiasco of 2006, when the GOP lost close Senate races elsewhere after pouring millions into a primary race to prop up Lincoln Chaffee. You don’t cannibalize key offices like the Florida Governorship to recruit candidates, and you certainly don’t do so to poke a stick in the eye of the party’s base by creating a contested primary against a rising star who appeals to a crucial demograpic. It’s a loser move all around.

Again with the we-lost-because-we-weren't-conservative-enough and the we-conservatives-are-the-victims memes. Let's point out some facts. As David Jenkins has shown, folks like Pat Toomey, the former head of Club for Growth, has had a history of going after moderates in primaries and either leaving them too weak to win the general or picking them off in the primary and then having the more conservative candidate go down in a ball of fire to the Democratic candidate. McLaughlin says that the NRSC wasted money in supporting Linc Chafee in his reelection bid in 2006. But McLaughlin forgot to mention something. Jenkins explains:

In 2006, the Club strongly backed Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey’s primary run for the Rhode Island Senate seat held by then-Senator Lincoln Chafee. The bloody primary battle depleted Chafee’s campaign coffers and increased his negatives, enabling Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse to eke out a victory.

Regardless of how much conservatives were annoyed by the moderate to liberal Chafee, the reality is that a less moderate Republican would have virtually no chance to capture that seat. A recent survey by Gallup found Rhode Island to be the most pro-Democrat state in the nation, with Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters holding a 37 percent advantage.

If the NRSC wasted money, it was because they had to pour more money to help someone who had a chance of winning win a primary against someone that didn't have a snowball's chance in hell to win a such a blue state.

As for Rubio, it's a big gamble to run as conservative in a state that gave Obama 51% of the vote. It might work in Texas, but not necessarily in Florida.

But then, the purists don't care. They believe that somewhere out there the silent majority will rise up and vote for a purist Republican. But that's living in a fantasy world. In the end, the GOP has to be about winning elections and tailoring their message in certain region of the country. One size doesn't fit all.

One last thing: it appears that Club for Growth is sending some love to Marco Rubio. The Democrats must be in heaven over this.

1 comment:

Paul Wartenberg said...

Is it me, or is the Republican Party and the Club for Greed in some kind of abusive/dependent relationship, where the Clubbers are the drunken fist-flinging husband to the crying, bloodied GOP wife who refuses to leave the abusive jerk? Because every time the Club for Greed strikes out, it's always the Republican Party that gets hurt. Always. And the GOP doesn't have the guts to stand up or walk away...