A couple wayward House Republicans have walked off the reservation and rejected the ideological purity demanded by the party’s conservative base. Rep. Richard Hanna, elected in 2010 as part of the Republican takeover of Congress, lashed out at his caucus yesterday:
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna took his own party to task today, saying the Republican Party is too willing to accommodate its most extreme members.
“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” he told The Post-Standard editorial board [...]
Hanna, a businessman who defeated Democratic incumbent Michael Arcuri two years ago, said his first term in Congress left him “sad in a lot of ways” because of the growing divisiveness on both sides of the aisle.
“We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides…” he said. “If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there.”
Hanna is the guy who asked women to donate to Democrats back in March, because they would have a better chance of supporting people who favored women’s issues. Hanna has a difficult race in November in a reconfigured district, which could be driving some of this, but somehow I don’t think he’s much longer for the Republican caucus.
Steven LaTourette, a veteran of the Gingrich revolution in 1994, is definitely not much longer for the caucus after announcing a sudden retirement with 99 days to go until Election Day. LaTourette apparently was miffed about being passed over for a plum committee assignment, but he also expressed frustration with the ideological purity in Congress:
In a press conference in his home district in Ohio, LaTourette said the partisan environment “no longer encouraged the finding of common ground.” Compromise, he said, had become “a dirty word” in Washington.
“The time has come for not only good politics, but good policy,” he said.
“I was horribly disappointed by how the transportation reauthorization went,” he said. LaTourette had worked with Boehner to achieve significant reforms in a far-reaching highway bill, but when the legislation came out of committee, he emerged as one of its most vocal critics, citing cuts to mass transit funding and other provisions favored by conservatives [...]
LaTourette also decried the politics that go into selecting committee chairmen and party leaders, where fundraising and partisan loyalty are rewarded. He said one unnamed colleague told him that if a member wants to move up the ranks, “you’ve got to give them your wallet and your voting card.”
“I’m not interested in giving them my wallet or my voting card,” he said.
LaTourette has become what passes for a moderate in the Republican ranks, voting recently against holding Eric Holder in contempt, among other things. But LaTourette is a very conservative guy, a Gingrich revolution type. That he would be seen as a moderate is telling in and of itself.
And his casual description of the corruption necessary to get into the upper echelons in Congress is worth highlighting. You basically need to sell your soul to move into a leadership position.
LaTourette leaves his party high and dry – the local Republicans will have to scramble for a replacement candidate – but the Democratic alternative is a perennial candidate who hasn’t raised any money, so holding the seat is probably not the issue. The issue is that the veer to the right in the Republican caucus is starting to repel some of their most solid members.