Dec 8, 2013
GOP’s Corporate Soul Trying to Wrest Control From the Tea Party
Posted on Nov 1, 2013
The fight for the soul of the Republican Party is being fought out in a little-noted open Republican primary in southern Alabama that pits an establishment Republican (and former Democrat) against a tea party insurgent, Dean Young, who vehemently opposes gay marriage and applauded the government shutdown to try to derail Obamacare.
As The New York Times reports, corporate donors have been pouring money into the race to try to get Bradley Byrne, seen as the more mainstream candidate, elected next week and to push back against tea party encroachments. But it may be too late. In primary elections, usually the most motivated and ardent voters turn out at the polls, and these days among Republicans, that’s the Christian right.
Another factor, of course, is gerrymandering. The Alabama race is in District 1, which looks like an amoeba seeping across the southwest corner of the state (it includes Mobile). The voters are predominately white, and conservative Republican, so whoever wins the GOP primary runoff will in all probability prevail in the special general election.
The Washington Post notes that races like this draw the attention of tea-leaf readers (pardon the pun):
In reality, these are just the kinds of races that tell us which way the wind is blowing. With congressional districts so gerrymandered, the Republican-Democratic head-to-head elections aren’t as significant as the interparty squabbling, because whoever wins little-noted races like these will gain control of the GOP in the House.
As we saw during the shutdown, Congress these days is controlled by the tea party fringe, and its power comes from turning out the right wingers in primaries in safe districts such as the one in southwest Alabama. These are exactly the tea leaves we should be reading. The Democrats won’t be able to send the tea party into political quarantine: It’s up to the Republicans to rid their own house of the race-baiting modern-day Know-Nothings. Whether they can will have profound effects on the country’s direction.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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