Conservative activist plan to challenge MORE moderate Republicans in 2010. Why?


Conservative activist apparently see the Hoffman loss in NY 23 district as a mandate to bring more pain to the GOP. This is either an empty threat by the far-Right or a political murder-suicide: Murder because, if this plan is executed the GOP is sure to loose seats in both Congressional chambers to the Democrats; Suicide because, well…they lost (did I miss something??) in a Conservative stronghold. How well do they expect to do in more moderate areas where moderate Republicans have more appeal?

Are the Conservatives convinced that White House/Democratic policies will fail so abysmally that moderates and independents will embrace far-right candidates or are they just angry enough to split the GOP? How should the GOP manage this? How should the Democrats handle this?

NY-23 was not a “Conservative stronghold”. The majority voted for Obama last year. And despite what the pundits are saying, NY-23 is not indicative of much at all, really - Hoffman was unfit for public office and should not have been considered for the job so it was never a clear-cut race to begin with.

Gay marriage lost - again - in Maine. Despite this, I’m still in favor of gay marriage, and support getting gay marriage on the ballot again as soon as possible.

I suspect there’s a similar mentality at work in the minds of the conservative activists mentioned in the OP.

I foresee three scenarios:
[li]The moderates and ultra-conservatives could clash, causing the ultra-conservatives (and probably some conservatives) to leave the Republican party.[/li][li]The moderates and ultra-conservatives could clash, giving the ultra-conservatives even more control, but then ultra-conservative candidates would probably lose a lot of races, and marginalize the whole Republican party, after which, maybe then the moderates and non ultra-conservatives can finally take full control of the party.[/li][li]The moderates could fold thus stagnating the party as America rejects more and more ultra-conservatism.[/li][/ol]

NY-23 has not had a Democratic Representative since the Civil War. Whether or not Hoffman was fit for public office he polled strongly enough to force the GOP candidate out of the race. Yes, he had lots of outside help and money, but this money may well be available again to represent another Conservative against the GOP candidate in another district. What can the GOP do to keep these traditionally safe Conservative votes in a similar situation in the 2010 mid-terms?

What strategy can the Democrats employ to take advantage of this situation?

Well, for one thing they can do what I understand the Democrat in that race did, and put out pretty much a purely positive message. The ultraconservative will put out ( and pay for ) all the negative campaign ads for you. You get all the advantages of bashing your opponent, without the drawbacks.

Its offensive to all the conservatives here but right wing, authoritarian, dittohead Palin conservatives (a different breed from moderate, libertarian, Goldwater conservatives who make up a good deal of the conservatives who post here on SD) are not too bright. They are closed minded, dogmatic, cannot distinguish fantasy from reality or what they want to believe from what evidence says they should believe. These are the same people who believe in creationism as science but reject climate change as a myth.

So naturally they are going to believe what they want to believe (that the problem with the GOP is that they are not right wing enough), not what they should believe, that a GOP that rejects 60%+ of the American people (everyone who isn’t a geriatric, white, christian, heterosexual, dittohead) cannot win national elections.

What if the next ballot that gay marriage activist were planning was a simultaneous measure in all States? Given the strong possibility of a nationwide NO vote that could set the movement back by years (if not a whole generation), would you be supportive of this action?

If the Conservatives raise enough money to challenge 10 to 12 “moderate” Republicans in 2010 and have a similar outcome as NY-23, even with the typical mid-term setbacks for the party of the President, the GOP may still find itself in the minority in both Chambers. How does this serve the Conservative cause?

With luck the Republican party will split into two: a nut-job wing and the moderates. The moderates can then adjust their platform a little more to the center and become a credible party.

Not that it’s any of my business, but if the party splits and the nut jobs get enough of a vote, they may be able to drag what’s left of the GOP to their side. Doesn’t take much - just enough votes to make the republicans have no real way of winning an election. 10% could be enough.

Isn’t this the position we are already in? The nutjobs are in control of the current Republican party.

The problem is, obviously, that the nutjobs don’t so.

Looks like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which funnels money to GOP candidates in Senate races, is managing this by deciding that it shouldn’t take sides in GOP primaries.

While this is actually a stance that I agree with on principle and would like to see the Dems emulate, it’ll reduce the advantages that non-wingnut Senate candidates like Charlie Crist (FL) and Mark Kirk (IL) would have over their wingnut rivals, if the NRSC sticks with its new position.

How should the Dems handle it? By publicly spouting platitudes about the value of democracy, and professions of noninterest in how the GOP chooses its candidates. And gleefully high-fiving each other in private.

Keep in mind that there’s a Nutjob Continuum, going off to infinity. The nutjobs that aren’t yet in control of the GOP are nuttier than the nutjobs that are currently running it. And they’re royally pissed off by the occasional bits of evidence that the nutjobs currently running the GOP might still be able to tell a hawk from a handsaw.

There are always movements from the fringe of the two parties to push out more moderate members. The Democrats did some more of this during the Bush years, since infighting goes up when you’re out of power. That lead to Ned Lamont, for example. Now Republicans are going through the same thing. By and large the fringes are more interested in ideological purity than compromising and getting things accomplished. That’s life. The bad news, I think, is that it’s easier than ever to mobilize a national campaign against a local incumbent who is not conversative or liberal enough. That leads to more polarization and in my opinion it screws with people’s ability to choose their own candidates and representatives if the Palins and MoveOns of the world are holding a local freakout because a Republican is okay with the stimulus bill or a Democrat is anti-abortion.

As a resident of the district for the first 49.7 years of my life, let me say that the idea that it’s Glenn Beck territory is absurd, and on a par with some randomly chosen young person who thinks Karl Rove and Dick Cheney represent traditional Republicanism. The district and most of its constituent counties generally go republican in selecting state and federal legislators, in delivering votes to presidential and statewide candidates, and in many local elections. But the Republicans it supports are in general moderate, and in the past even occasionally liberal.

To use Hoffman’s performance as a bellwether of what the Republicans should do nationally is, well, a big mistake on several levels.

They need to pick their battles. In the deep South you can get the most conservative candidate you want. In NY-23 or in any other blue state, you have to accept a more liberal Republican.

The problem with seeing this as a movement on the Dem side is that after Lieberman, you run out of examples pretty fast. I think there were three primary challengers backed by the DailyKos community in 2008, for instance, bringing the grand total of recent primary challenges of note from the left to…four.

Not that I’d have any objection to more for-instances.

I’d also point out that Markos Moulitsas, whose website is probably the epicenter of what appetite exists for primary challenges on the Dem side, has never seemed to have much interest in simply trying to purge the most conservative Democrats. Rather, he wants to primary those Democratic officeholders who are the most conservative relative to their districts, which is why people like Lieberman, Al Wynn, and Dan Lipinski were in his sights.

That’s a bit different from ideological warfare/purging, which would go after the Ben Nelsons and Kent Conrads of the world first, and only then be bothered (maybe) by the very conservative Republicans that took their seats, just as the Tea Partiers still seem gleeful that their guy in NY-23 knocked off the moderate Republican candidate, even though the result was that a Democrat won the election. Moulitsas simply wants to get the most progressive Congress that’s realistically achievable. This means getting the most progressive Democrats nominated that can win the general election in a given district.

As best as I can tell, the left wing of the Democratic Party has more or less taken its cue from Moulitsas’ attitude. In addition, a lot of us would like to see some sort of party discipline with respect to cloture votes - that all Dems should stand behind the principle that major Democratic legislation deserves up-or-down votes on the Senate floor, and Democrats who stand in the way of that should suffer somewhat in their committee assignments and chairmanships. But that’s hardly ‘purge’ behavior.

The strategy makes sense if it’s aimed at extreme outliers (as may have been the case with NY-23) and/or places where a more conservative candidate is realistic, as RTF suggests. If you challenge anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh in the Northeast, it’s not a realistic strategy.

I doubt if anyone is thinking of doing that.

Actually the high-fives would be silly, because Cornyn’s statement was itself a meaningless platitude. Per the NYT

Not gonna happen. There’s no evidence of a backlash against Reagan’s deal with the religious right. It’s the folks who stray from that who are getting massacred, and there clearly aren’t enough of them to form anything viable on their own.