2014 battle lines coming into focus
A famous Democrat told me recently, the Georgia Republicans in the 2014 Senate race – Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston – are all “certifiable.” They are some of the loudest, logically dissonant voices in the House of Representatives, but by running, they are out of Congress, permanently. Further, having them in that race gives the probable Democrat, Michelle Nunn, a real shot at winning.
Some on the left may have been disappointed that the exemplar of the most ridiculous and extreme voices of the Republican Party, and right wing politics, Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann, chose not to run again in the coming midterms, because they wanted to show that not only could she be beaten, but the stubborn, conservative ideology she represents would go down with her, in dramatic, flaming fashion, in 2014.
But, as they say in baseball, a walk is as good as a hit. If we can beat them through attrition that’s even better than beating them at the ballot box. For one thing, it’s cheaper. And while the fall of one narrow-minded icon will not stop the Tea Party goose steppers, it is a sign that their candidates realize their mass appeal is fading.
But that presents a conundrum for those Republicans, in solidly red districts, who consider the far right base a necessary evil, because it is an evil that can cost them their seats.
“The problem for many Republicans in these specific districts is that if they’re less partisan, they face a primary from the right,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico. “If they protect themselves from a primary by being more partisan, they’re in trouble in the general election.”
A good example of that is the immigration fight. After the Senate, last week, passed their immigration reform bill on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the conservatives in the House dug in their heels.
“Those who voted for this bill sacrificed the Rule of Law for a meaningless political trophy,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA), said in a statement, where he compared the bill the Senate passed to what he called “the 1986 Reagan Amnesty bill.”
Now, King has the luxury of not having to worry about anyone running to his right, but he did have to apologize to popular Senate Republican, and one of the leaders of the Gang of Eight, Marco Rubio (R-FL), for some remarks made by folks at a rally the Iowan held in Washington last month, against the upper chamber’s immigration bill.
According to ABC News:
“Audience members loudly booed Rubio’s name when it was mentioned by several speakers, including Robert Rector, the co-author of a controversial Heritage Foundation report on the cost of the Senate bill. Rector accused the senator of not reading ‘his own bill.’
“A handful of attendees carried signs that targeted Rubio. One read: ‘Marco Early Advocate of Muslim Brotherhood Takeover. Obamas [sic] Idiot.'”
As if he were personally listening to Rep. Israel’s warning, the man that Congressional Democrats just voted “most clueless Republican,” actually realized that he couldn’t go that far, without sounding too extreme, hence his apology to Florida’s junior senator.
It now appears King will have a credible Democrat challenging him, next year. Tuesday, Jim Mowrer, a 27 year-old Army veteran, announced he was going to take on the unflinching conservative. He has a compelling background, in service to his country, and a message that could appeal to independents. “[I]n Iraq,” he said, in his announcement, “There were no Democrats or Republicans, just Iowans and Americans.”
King’s district may not provide a very big opening for Democrats, but, Israel said, the idea is to narrow the path for incumbent Republicans. “They’re getting squeezed,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that hole is very small.”
But don’t underestimate the far right’s faith. They’ll always believe they can get an elephant through the eye of a needle, even if the have to destroy the needle in the process.