Political Animal


March 21, 2013 1:14 PM The Paul Broun Mainstream

By Ed Kilgore

Some of you may recall a post I did yesterday on the vast and nearly uniform pressure on Republican elected officials (particularly those involved in or vulnerable to primaries) to move incessantly to the Right in sharp contrast to Democrats, who more often than not welcome identification as a “moderate.” I used the field of Georgians considering a Senate run in 2014 as an example of this phenomenon.

Interestingly enough, late last night Politico’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan posted an article very specifically about Paul Broun’s effect on three House colleagues who are thinking about joining him in the 2014 Senate field:

The messy politics of the Republican primary for Georgia’s open Senate seat has steamrolled its way into the Capitol.
The unruly race is roiling the state’s House delegation and causing problems for the GOP leadership.
Rep. Paul Broun — the only announced candidate to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss — is yanking much of the congressional delegation to the right and throwing their votes and the support of leadership into a daily flux.
The problem: There are four House Republicans interested in the Senate seat. But the Peach State delegation and GOP leaders say they have no idea what Broun is up to at any given time, causing agitation for the other three congressmen — Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston and Tom Price.
It’s not that Broun is doing anything differently than he normally would, but now, it’s causing a ripple effect among his colleagues that wasn’t there before….
The rush to the right among the Georgians is all too clear. Gingrey is a 10-year veteran of the House, and Kingston has been in Washington for two decades, never causing their leadership much trouble. Now they find themselves as radicals, voting against things like procedural motions — an unpredictable move not welcomed by party leaders.
“Everybody can see what’s going on here,” a veteran GOP lawmaker said.

Yes indeedy, we can. While it’s almost impossible to be considered “too conservative” in today’s Republican Party (believe me, if it were possible, Paul Broun would be the poster boy for the Beyond the Pale crowd), it’s political death to be considered insufficiently conservative. So in a very real sense, Paul Broun now defines the mainstream of Republican ideology in his state, and this sort of thing is by no means confined to Georgia. So long as it persists, talk of “moving the GOP back to the center” is really a joke.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on March 21, 2013 1:26 PM:

    Ready everyone, let's do, "The Right-Wing Limbo!"


  • Hoodie on March 21, 2013 1:33 PM:

    I've spent of good bit of time on the GA coast and , whenever I would see Kingston, I got the distinct impression he doesn't believe half the drivel he spouts. That was before he thought about running for the Senate.

  • Michael Tracy on March 21, 2013 1:44 PM:

    Do the Democrats have a credible candidate in Georgia who can steal this thing?

  • golack on March 21, 2013 1:48 PM:

    radical reactionary anarchism..."conservatism" gone off the deep end...

  • sgetti on March 21, 2013 1:51 PM:

    The GOP is dividing and the gap should widen as the Tea Party minority grows ever frustrated when their agenda never gets a vote. Even last week's primary in South Carolina showed a lack of consensus amongst conservatives to pick a candidate (just like most of the Republican presidential primaries last year). The Democratic primary in Chicago three weeks ago was just the opposite - a landslide candidate was chosen. I look for three parties in every major race with the conservative bloc being split and progressive candidates benefiting. Perhaps 2014 will be the exception to the 'rule' about an incumbent President's party losing seats in mid-term contests.

  • boatboy_srq on March 21, 2013 1:59 PM:

    @Hoodie: so long as they keep spouting the drivel - and being rewarded with public office for it - it doesn't matter if they believe it or not: enough of their constituents will believe it, and that only perpetuates the problem.

    Captcha: puthotic and. Precisely.

  • Rich on March 21, 2013 2:20 PM:

    In a four-way contest, there should be room for a relative moderate, if he can put together a decent GOTV effort. Someone like that easily could win the general election. If no one manages enough money to take that role, then the future of the party for a generation is pretty well ordained, at least in Georgia.

  • boatboy_srq on March 21, 2013 2:28 PM:

    @Rich: "relative moderate," according to Teahadist orthodoxy, translates to "Gawdless Librul Soshulist." Look at what's happened to Bennett, Graham, and even to Chambliss himself, and listen to all the statements from the Teahadist factions about "primarying" anyone who isn't in lockstep. For these volk, there's adherence to The Doctrine, and there's The Enemy. Where is there room for a "relative moderate" in that?

  • jrosen on March 21, 2013 2:45 PM:

    When Oh When will we stop calling nihilistic maniacs like Broun "conservative"? They are radical reactionaries, fascists bearing the Bible and wrapped in the flag, as was predicted. Calling them conservatives gives them a patina of respectability and seriousness they do not in the least deserve.

  • Mark_NC on March 21, 2013 2:59 PM:

    Ditto: jrosen on March 21, 2013 2:45 PM:

    In theory, "Conservative" is not synonymous with "Total Asshole". It should have some measure of reason, etc.
    You would think the actual "Conservatives" would be screaming for the radicals to stop using/abusing/ruining their brand.

    Of course, I'm assuming that there are some ACTUAL Conservatives left in the the Republican party. It's entirely possible that there are none left!