Retiring Republican Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe seems to be taking a parting shot at the right wing extremism currently infecting the G.O.P. She recently said that she will not necessarily give her $2.36 million dollar war chest to another Republican. Quoting an article from the Kennebec Journal “outgoing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) may be using her campaign cash to aid candidates of her choice rather than her party. In a letter written last week but released Tuesday, Snowe told campaign donors that she planned to give leftover cash to candidates in the “sensible center” rather than pledging that money to Republicans, signaling that the eventual GOP nominee may not be moderate enough for her taste.” Snowe’s profile in courage in standing up to radical rightwing extremism was picked up by the leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a guy named Matt Canter, who opined: “Mitch McConnell and national Republicans have disenfranchised moderates in Maine and across the country…So it should not be a surprise that Sen. Snowe is questioning whether to give her money to support the extremist, right-wing Republican agenda.”
Few would deny that Olympia Snowe has the courage of her convictions and she can only be seen as a leader of what’s left of the “sensible” right. Is she a fading voice in the wilderness or is she one of the first among an emerging element of Republicans who are seeking to “take their party back” from the political amateurs on the far right? Could it be that those radicals who may have shot their bolt in 2010 and whom have since proven only that they can succeed in obstructing government when the American people want bipartisan compromise and results have created an opening for the sensible conservatives to reassert themselves?
As it turns out there’s increasing evidence that Senator Snowe may be far from a fading voice on the right. A recent Republican primary fight in Illinois, between Don Manzullo and Adam Kinzinger, revealed a weakened and ineffective Tea Party who’s candidate was beaten by a Republican freshman who had refused to toe the extremist line even though he was backed by the Tea Party when first elected. However when you go behind the headline what you find is that one of the G.O.P.’s rising stars, Eric Cantor played a important role in Kinzinger’s victory: “Kinzinger, meanwhile, got a critical boost from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who bucked convention by endorsing the Air National Guard pilot while his allied super PAC dropped $50,000 on a pro-Kinzinger ad.”
Right next door in Indiana long time senator Richard Lugar is also facing a Tea Party backed challenger and both Governor Mitch Daniels and the man once considered to be the G.O.P.’s preeminent maverick, John McCain, have come to Lugar’s assistance. But even more importantly is the fact that in both Illinois and Indiana, as well as in several other states, the mavericks have super PAC money helping them blunt the extreme right as well. “Major donors, including former fundraisers for President George W. Bush and McCain, are putting money into pro-Lugar super PACs. Lugar, moreover, isn’t the only incumbent or establishment Republican candidate receiving strong support from big donors through super PACs and political nonprofits. This election cycle the GOP establishment has turned to these new unlimited-money vehicles to help tamp down the Tea Party insurgency that many in the top tiers of the party blamed for the Republicans’ failure to take control of the Senate in 2010. Super PACs and political nonprofits, despite arguments that they have expanded the ability of competitors to challenge incumbents, may actually be doing the opposite. The flow of money released by the 2010 Citizens United and SpeechNow.org decisions has encouraged independent GOP establishment-oriented groups and donors to get involved in primary contests that had previously been dominated by the more radical Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.”
Further to the west the same situation is clearly evident. “In Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch appears to be successfully fighting back a Tea Party challenge with the help of the American Action Network.” At the same time another prominent Utah politico, Jon Huntsman has publicly criticized the Party: “Gone are the days when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold, visionary stuff, I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.” Meanwhile in Texas, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has the “support of two super PACs, backed with major contributions from the biggest Republican donors, against a challenge from former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who is supported by Tea Party-aligned groups including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.”
What we seem to be observing is a cadre of Republican leaders who, for the past two years, have been drowned out by Republican Party radicals and who, aware of the failure to retake the Senate in 2010 and the Party’s historically low standing, are now working to defeat these same radicals in an intraparty fight. The irony of this is that the big money that came out of Citizens United seems to be flowing against the right wing radicals within the G.O.P. and working to the advantage of those who are truly concerned about the G.O.P. and who want to take their party back.
Olympia Snowe War Chest May Not Go To Next Republican Nominee; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/olympia-snowe-war-chest-republican-nominee_n_1449753.html?ref=topbar
Illinois Primary Reveals a Weakened Tea Party; http://swampland.time.com/2012/03/22/illinois-primary-reveals-a-weakened-tea-party/
Senate Races 2012: Republican Establishment Tries To Tamp Down Tea Party Insurgency; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/senate-races-2012-republican-establishment-tea-party_n_1437646.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=042012&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Jon Huntsman Criticizes Republican Party, Compares Actions To Communist China; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/22/jon-huntsman-gop_n_1444529.html?ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=042312&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief