The Battle in the GOP

CQ Politics has a very good story on Senator John Cornyn’s effort to increase the number of Republicans in the US Senate. The story is interesting for two reasons:

  1. It illustrates the work of the party campaign committees associated with Congress. Senator Cornyn is the Chairman of the  National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC raises and spends money on behalf of Republicans running for the US Senate. It is not a subcommittee of the Republican National Committee and the chair of the committee is a Senator elected by fellow Republican US Senators every two years.  On the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee does the same thing for House Republicans and the Democrats have similar committees for the House and Senate. These congressional campaign committees are important because they operate somewhat independently of other party committees. Each may have their own philosophy and tactics. Sometimes that produces tension…
  2. John Cornyn is experiencing a little tension because he has attempted to recruit moderate Republican candidates that he believes are more likely to win in November of 2010. Apparently, this hasn’t pleased some people on the far right and some conservatives are threatening a kind of boycott of NRSC fundraising. Anytime I hear someone criticize John Cornyn for not being conservative enough I have to pause and wonder what is going on.

RNC LogoWhile it’s tempting to talk about “the party” when referring to one of our major parties, it’s important to remember that the differences within the parties will be reflected in its organizations. American political parties are really a set of loosely connected organizations and there is certain to be disagreement.

There are lots of stories about the battles in the Texas GOP. Most focus on the Governor’s race. The Texas Tribune has a good story on how the differences play out in a race for the State Board of Education. While our governor’s race is a good example, there are plenty of places in Texas and across the nation where you can see this conflict.

The Texas Republican Party logoIt’s seems odd to me that some conservatives have felt free to move the Texas Republican Party to the right of the national party (even while Bush was President) while  treating Cornyn’s efforts to court moderates as illegitimate. These conservatives believe that they are absolutely right about these issues and that the Republican party would win a majority if only the party pushed these issues harder.

These conservatives claim Reagan as their hero. However, their memories of Reagan’s presidency are selective and too many forget how many people on the far right criticized Reagan for the compromises he made and for putting aside social issues in favor of economic policy. So…. maybe they should cut the Senator a little slack.

“A compromise is never to anyone’s liking–it’s just the best you can get and contains enough of what you want to justify what you give up.”
–Ronald Reagan


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