In Battle For the Republican Party, It's Game On
Even before today's elections got underway, there's been non-stop gabbing about conservative activists gaining ground within the Republican Party. With Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin urging on their supporters, some are even suggesting this might be the moment where conservatives finally elbow aside-if not purge- the moderates from the party.
Rightly or not, it seems nearly everyone is taking their cue from the New York's 23rd congressional race where pollsters say Doug Hoffman now leads the race. David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, told the Los Angeles Times that a Hoffman victory would be akin to "dropping a bomb into the center of the Republican caucus."
Hyperbole? Up to a point. As others have pointed out, the district in question has been reliably Republican since the middle of the 19th century. But if the party mandarins, who until this week had spurned Hoffman in favor of a more moderate candidate, don't know what his victory represents, former congressman and now MSNBC show host Joe Scarborough makes it plain.
In a blog post he says that Hoffman's rise testifies to pent-up frustration with "a decade of bloated and corrupt Republican leadership in Washington, D.C." Scarborough faults Republicans for a track record pockmarked by hypocrisy and duns them for failing to live up to promises to balance budgets in the 1990s. He says they were no better in foreign policy where Republicans criticized Bill Clinton as being unnecessarily activist, only to pull a 180 after assuming power. Suddenly, it was perfectly fine to script a foreign policy predicated on ending global tyranny and exporting democracy. (And we know how well that turned out.) That history now leaves the small party conservatives with no shortage of ammunition to fire away at the GOP establishment. Scarborough writes: "This race gave the same conservatives who helped drive Ronald Reagan's victory and the 1994 Republican Revolution something to cheer about for the first time in a long time."
Republican strategist Mary Matalin echoed a similar theme recently, when she said that Hoffman's endorsers "speak for all of us who came to the party in support of the fundamental/constitutional principles it represented."
In the meantime, activists are pledging to go hunting for RINOs (Republican In Name Only) in places like Florida where conservative former state house speaker Marco Rubio plans to challenge Governor Charlie Crist replace the retiring Mel Martinez in the Senate. Or out here in California, conservative Chuck DeVore is taking on the establishment candidate, former Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, in the race to challenge Barbara Boxer.
That's just the short list. After Tuesday's election, that roster doubtless will get a lot longer.
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