Political Animal

Blog

January 08, 2013 5:20 PM Up From the Grave?

By Ed Kilgore

Here was some startling news today from Steve LaTourette, the just-retired House Member who has taken over the hoary Republican Main Street Partnership, as reported by Yahoo’s Chris Moody:

The Republican Main Street Partnership, a Washington-based group that has promoted moderate GOP lawmakers and policies, will remove the word “Republican” from its title and welcome center-right Democrats in 2013, Yahoo News has learned. The organization’s board of directors voted Tuesday morning to scrap party identification from its title and be known simply as “The Main Street Partnership.” The group’s new president, former Ohio Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette, told Yahoo News that he plans to begin conversations with Blue Dog Democrats and centrist groups in the coming months.

I had totally forgotten about this group. I actually attended a meeting with its founder, former Rep. Amo Houghton, when it was originally being formed (in 1995, I believe), and they came to the DLC for advice. They seemed like nice people with good intentions, but no particular wherewithal to constitute themselves as a serious faction in the GOP, much less a policy-generating entity like the DLC.

The RMSP’s web page shows it as having three senatorial members (Collins, Kirk and McCain) and 40 members from the House, including some folks with serious seniority:

Current members of the Main Street organization include Republican Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington, who was named chairman of the House Republican Conference in November.

So that’s why this part of Moody’s story is most interesting:

The Main Street Partnership will also expand its super PAC, Defending Main Street, to aid center-right members of both parties, LaTourette said, adding, “It’s not going to be focused so much on party as it is on protecting people from the right and left extremes if they choose to do the right things.”

According to OpenSecrets.org, that fine database on campaign contributions, Defending Main Street spent a nice round “zero” dollars during the 2012 cycle. So I guess anything it decides to do will represent an expansion.

RMSP does have a conventional PAC, though, that can contribute directly to candidates, and it spent just over a million bucks in the ‘12 cycle, all to Republican candidates. It wasn’t what you’d call a heavy hitter, since the maximum contribution was $10,000. But if it went bipartisan, you can see it might have some symbolic impact for better or for worse. What I’m interested, though, is how long those GOP leadership types—or indeed, most of the RMSP’s existing congressional members—stick around if the group is tied to donations to “center-right” Democrats, who, after all, are usually top targets for the NRCC.

I’ll be watching this story to see if it’s just some ghostly noise from a semi-moribund group, or a small but still surprising act of defiance of party discipline.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Rich on January 08, 2013 5:26 PM:

    The natural base for Blue Dogs has been the GOP. This makes it more obvious. And Blue Dogs probably have a better chance of election than "moderate" GOPers. LaTourette was a gas bag media whore in his days as a suburban prosecutor. The media seems dumb enough to fall in love with him.

  • martin on January 08, 2013 6:15 PM:

    Just what the world needs, a puppy farm for Blue Dogs.

  • Daryl McCullough on January 08, 2013 7:05 PM:

    Amo Houghton. Wow. He was my congressman for many years, back when there were still moderate Republicans. In the most recent election for his seat (well, there's been redistricting, so it's not the same seat, but there's a lot of overlap) Tea Partier Tom Reed beat out Democrat Nate Shinagawa. Which just goes to show that even in a blue state like New York, once you get away from the big cities and the college towns, voters aren't that different from Southerners.