Free Markets, Free People

Thinning The RINO Herd?

Here’s an interesting exchange between Chris Wallace and Republican GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday yesterday:

WALLACE: Let me turn, because I would — I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t ask you a few political questions, Senator.

Conservatives are now talking about launching primary challenges against candidates who are actually picked by the Senate Republican leadership in a number of states. We have them up on a map there — in Florida, in Connecticut, in Illinois, in California, and your home state of Kentucky.

In fact, it has gotten so serious that the National Republican Senate Committee has stopped endorsing candidates because it seems that it creates a grassroots backlash.

How concerned are you — how much of a threat is this split within the GOP to your chances in 2010, the way it kind of messed up things in that upstate congressional district in New York?

MCCONNELL: No threat at all. I mean, what you see here is enormous enthusiasm to run. People believe that getting the Republican nomination means you have a good chance of winning.

And so we’ve got, for example, a four-way primary in Connecticut for our nomination, a state we haven’t been competitive in in a very long time. So our view is this is an indication of the shifting political environment.

We all know the Gallup poll just last week, in response — asked the American people if the election were held today would you vote for the Republican candidate for Congress or the Democratic candidate for Congress. Our side had a four-point lead. Among independents it had a 22-point lead.

The political landscape, Chris, has shifted dramatically in the last year…

WALLACE: But — but let…

MCCONNELL: … since this administration, and that’s…

WALLACE: … but let me just…

MCCONNELL: … why all of these — that’s why all of these people want to run for office.

WALLACE: But let me just briefly ask you about the political landscape within the party, because it now seems that an endorsement by the National Republican Senatorial Committee is a bad thing, not a badge of honor.

MCCONNELL: Well, they generally don’t endorse anyway. So it doesn’t make any difference. I mean, we’re happy that there are a lot of people running, and the reason they’re running is because they think the nomination’s worth having because they think they can win in November.

Now I find all of that very interesting for a couple of reasons. One:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s public support is collapsing in South Carolina – driven by a wholesale revolt among the GOP electorate and a steady erosion of his support amongst independents.

Already consistently loathed by a solid third of GOP voters, Graham’s recent leftward bent – including his co-authoring of a controversial “Cap and Tax” proposal supported by President Barack Obama and liberal Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) – has him locked in a “terminal free fall,” according one prominent Republican consultant.

I told you about that in a post entitled “Why The GOP Remains A Minority Party“. Graham is typical of the type of politician the conservative base is sick and tired of. While NY-23 was the harbinger, Graham’s defeat in a primary would be the definitive signal that the game has decidedly changed within the GOP. Mitch McConnell, putting the best face he can on it, has obviously sniffed out the trend and is “enthusiastically” supporting it.

That’s the second thing I find interesting – will the NRSC be throwing funds Graham’s way in his next re-election campaign (certainly doing so would be interpreted as a sign of endorsement) or not? Taking McConnell and the NRSC at their word (always an iffy bet) I’d have to say no.

The bottom line here is the politicians are paying attention. Given McConnell’s words they don’t see this building opposition to the more “moderate” Scozzafava-type Republicans as going away. In fact, when McConnell says they’re seeing a “shifting political environment”, he’s admitting they’ve finally figured out where that shift is headed, the fact that it is not a fad or a temporary phenomenon and that he and the rest of the GOP politicians had better get on board or find themselves facing a primary opponent.

I’m going to be very interested to see where that leaves mushy old Lindsey Graham in all of this when election time rolls around.



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17 Responses to Thinning The RINO Herd?

  • I know the left and the press (same thing, I know) will excitedly promote this story about the GOP “civil war” and about how “modreates are not welcome in the GOP” and how this means the GOP will remain the minority party forever etc etc etc (while ignoring how total Dem control and they still can’t push through healthcare but that’s another topic I suppose)

    But the bottom line is the GOP wins when they run on their alleged principles, and not just being Dem Lite.  There’s nothing wrong with thinning the heard when it will make you stronger. I’ve said it many times, I am prepared to accept short-term losses to the Dems if it means things get fixed in this party.

    • It really depends on how the leadership of the GOP plays this.  They can either say that the party is going through a phase of re-affirming its principles.  Or, it can pout and confirm the Media’s message that Moderates aren’t welcome and the extremists are taking over.
      It all depends on how big a sore loser the RINOs can be.

      • It all depends on how big a sore loser the RINOs can be.


        Lets see…..  Specter switched parties.  Chaffee said he was going to switch parties after he got kicked out (thank god)  Scozzafava endorsed the Dem and handed him the race.

        You have your answer?

      • That’s the point of the post – the GOP leadership, of which McConnell is a part – is saying that it is a “good thing” that there is more conservative opposition (although they don’t frame it that way). Take that for what you wish, but it leaves the Graham out on a limb with little support from the leadership (if you take them at their word).

        • “(if you take them at their word).”

          I don’t. Fool me once….

        • McConnell may be a hopeful bell weather if he’s sincere and not trying to anger the bear in hopes he goes away.
          If this is a start of a process, when its over, it won’t just be McConnell who will have made comments.  I guess I meant to say all the Republicans have yet to weigh in and the amount of public sour grapes will determine how negatively the media can spin this.

  • I expect the RINOs to not go quietly.
    I thought it would be the far left stretch of the Democrats that would split their party.  But it looks like the Republicans are the ones going to potentially split at some point if politics don’t change.
    In the short term the pieces will be weakened.  But in the long term Traditional Democrats will gravitate to the RINO end of the former Republicans and the Democrat Party will go on the dust bin of history.

  • Has McQ noticed that the Republicans control only 40 Senate seats?  And he wants to “thin the herd” even more?  To what – 35 seats?  30 seats?

    I, for one, am all for “thinning the herd” of RINOs in places like South Carolina – places where there is no reason for there to be any RINOs.  But talking about “thinning the herd” of RINOs in places like Connecticut (or Illinois or NY) is ludicrous.

    The only people who talk about “thinning the herd” of RINOs in Connecticut are people who think that the Democratic filibuster-proof majority is just fine.  But those are also the people who thought that electing a Democrat in NY-23 was just fine too.

    • Yup I’ve noticed. I’ve also noticed the angst Snowe, Collins and, previously, Specter caused the GOP. And on other issues there are Graham and McCain. Tell me, don’t they manage to reduce the number below 40 by their votes at various key times?

      What’s the difference?

      • I agree with McQ.  While getting a Republican of almost any stripe into office in blue states is a victory, it can wind up being Pyrhic at best and lead to defeat at worst.  I recall reading that millions of conservatives stayed home this past election day as they could not bring themselves to vote for Yosemite Sam.  How many millions will continue to stay home if Yosemite, Grahamesty, Snowejob, and other RINO’s continue to be the face of the “new, moderate GOP”?  How many will continue to stay home if the GOP continues to nominate “moderate” Republicans like Scozzafava?

        There’s a happy medium that political parties must seek: they have to balance the sometimes extreme demands of their base with the need to attract as many voters from “the middle” as they can.  The GOP’s strategy has been too much of the latter, not enough of the former, and it’s killing them.  As shark says above, the GOP needs to run on its [conservative] principles if it wants to win.  It needs to educate voters why those principles are good, not toss them aside in the effort to show how “moderate” it is.

  • I think we are misinterpreting the whole thing.  The point that is being made is the NRSC should not be endorsing candidates in the primary.  Crist is a very good example.
    Scozzafava is a different type of example.  During the campaign she was to the left of Owens.  She would have nothing for the GOP in the House other than not voting for Pelosi as speaker.  The fact she edorsed Owen rather than Hoffman is  indicative of how she was really a Democrat rather a Republican.
    Specter is a very strange animal.  Are you aware, Shark,  Specter started as a Democrat and only changed parties so he could run  as a Republican against a Democratic incumbent.  His switch back to Democrat this time was only because he knew he would lose a primary challenge to Toomey.  Specter only won the primary in 2004 because Bush did so much for him.  Specter has only one principle: Specter.
    For Bruce’s post to have much meaning, we would have to see Graham win the primary and then have the NRSC abandon him.  I do not see that happening.

  • “The point that is being made is the NRSC should not be endorsing candidates in the primary.”

    In that I agree.  If we have learned one thing this past Summer, is you do not take your contituents for granted.  The Dems will learn that lesson in 2010 and the Republicans need to pay close attention.  One way to do that is the NRSC needs to stay out of the fray and let the chips fall – let the districts have their say.  Right now there is justifiable anger at the NRSC over the NY-23 affair.  Had there been a primary, Hoffman would have won and then gone on to beat the Dem.  Instead, the Republicans look like a bunch of clowns with Scozzafava showing herself to be to the left of even the Democrat – much to anger of the electorate.

    Keep making these kinds of mistakes and the Republicans will relearn their own lessons of 2006/2008 and new ones in 2010.

  • I’m going to be very interested to see where that leaves mushy old Lindsey Graham in all of this when election time rolls around.

    The dustbin of history would be an appropriate place.

  • Politics is the art of the possible.

    The reaction of the American public to the mistake it made when it elected Obama is changing what is possible.  In deep Blue regions, the moonbats rule the Democratic party.  In light blue districts, only the rightmost of Democrats can be elected.  In purple districts, enough independent will go GOP (or other than Dem), that mid-right candidates are safe bets.  In right leaning districts, increasingly conservative candidates can be successfully run.

    If the national GOP had realized this, they’d made a clean sweep in the last general election.

    NY23 shows this, where a Democrat only could win when the GOP cluelessly also nominated one.

    Hoffman is precious more conservative than the man he tried to replace, his election in terms of his campaign positions was no stretch at all.

  • Here’s my question. Why can’t people like Graham think of two small points before rushing over to be bipartisan:
    1.  You’re in the opposition now and by a large majority – they do not need your vote except for political cover. Do not provide this cover. They are USING YOU DUDE.
    2. Cap and Trade – Why not wait until we are out of the recession and doing well before passing this law? What is the urgency? The recession itself will cut a ton of CO2 emissions. Why not wait a bit?

  • Sounds like you’re unaware that Lindy is safe for 5 years.