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An Experiment in Moderation

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 31 July 2010

Link from Five Thirty Eight.

Knowing our collective frustration here at RFO as we watch more and more Republicans lean more and more to the right to appease the base (especially in efforts to win a primary) I thought this Michigangubernatorial primary was a unique race we should draw our attention to. Can you imagine? A GOP candidate selling himself as a moderate and moving to the left on purpose to win his primary? While perhaps not in the national spotlight, the consequences in this upcoming primary election may reveal a great deal in the battle between moderation and the extreme fringe within the GOP. Who knows? It may actually force the party to reconsider their current strategy of pushing out the moderate voices...or it may not change a thing. If nothing else, I thought it was an interesting story about an experiment in moderation. I would love to hear your thoughts and predictions and we can revisit when the results come in.

In the many Republican primaries we've had so far this year, it'sreasonably safe to say that the word "conservative"--often modified by"true" or "most"--has been used by candidates almost universally as apersonal and policy identifier. That's not surprising, given therelatively high level of ideological conformity among self-identifiedRepublican voters, and the impetus to self-conscious conservatismprovided by the Tea Party movement and an energized Republican base.

Soit's interesting to take a look at next Tuesday's  primary, and find a very competitive Republicancandidate, Rick Snyder, who doesn't much use the C-word, and in fact,is appealing for Democratic and independent votes on the apparentground that like Mike Dukakis in 1988, he's about competence, notideology.

According to a new pollfrom the Michigan-based firm EPIC-MRA, Snyder is in the lead in a veryclose three-way race for the gubernatorial nomination against twocandidates, Attorney General Mike Cox and congressman Peter Hoekstra,who are competing heatedly with each other for the Tea Party/TrueConservative mantle. Yet in the Year of the Conservative, you searchhigh and low on Snyder's web page to find the word "conservative."There are plenty of things Snyder talks about--notably his businessexperience as an executive with Gateway, and his determination to makeMichigan government operate efficiently--that appeal to conservatives.But he mainly identifies himself as "one tough nerd"--the sort of thingyou'd normally associate with elitist liberals--and in the stretch runof the primary, seems to be branding himself as a moderate with specialcrossover appeal to Democrats and independents.

To be sure,Snyder calls himself pro-life (though he has broken with anti-abortiongroups by strongly supporting embryonic stem cell research) andpro-gun, but has avoided discussion of social issues in his campaign.More importantly, he's associated himself with former Gov. William Millikan,whose moderate (and pro-choice) policies as Michigan's chief executiveand GOP party boss were nearly as annoying to conservatives as hisendorsements of the last two Democratic presidential nominees. And he'salso linked even more closely to moderate (and pro-choice) formercongressman Joe Schwarz, who flirted with an independent candicacy forgovernor before being tapped by Snyder's campaign to reach out to Democratic and independent crossover voters.

The "reachout" idea is interesting but problematic. Michigan is an open primary state, and moreover, one that lets voters decide within the privacy of the voting booth which primary they will participate in (leading to high levels of confusion and spoiled ballots). But it's not clear how willing Michigan voters are to cross over. The EPIC-MRA poll cited earlier showsthat only 2% of likely GOP primary voters are Democrats, and only 15%are true independents. The same poll shows self-identifiedconservatives outgunning moderates 72-24. if Snyder wins onTuesday, it will provide an exception to the general rule that being aloud-and-proud conservative is a condition precedent for representingthe Republican Party in major elections this year. And who knows, aSnyder win could even supply some encouragement down the road toconservative efforts nationally to close primaries or require runoffs.

Very interesting. I had been more closely following the Democratic primary in Michigan, and secretly hoping that Mike Cox would win the GOP primary. Does Rick Snyder have a history of being a moderate, or is this just a bandwagon that he recently jumped on? Reason why I ask is because I'm so tired of voting for a candidate that promises to be moderate and bipartisan, but doesn't fulfill on that promise. Most of these candidates are fly-by-night moderates, who exaggerated their moderate credentials because they no longer want to associate with the lunatics in their own party. But as soon as they get elected, it's back to business as usual.

Hey, stranger! Where have you been? Welcome back!

Well, I have seen many right-leaning sites like this one trying to scare "real Republicans" about what a RINO and closet Progressive he is. So I think he is the real deal in terms of the "liberals" he has been associated with and his positions on stem cell research, etc. Having said that, his ties to big busiess and donations from Goldman Sach's and other Wall Street establishments would worry me. Tell us your thoughts/perspective about the Democratic candidates. This article indicates that Democrats don't seem too excited about the choices. It also points out that there are many undecided voters for both the GOP and Democratic races so each primary "edge" is really up in the air. Should be interesting to see the results.

Guys here is what I can tell you. Rick Snyder is now ahead of Pete Hoekstra by 11 percentage points, looking good to clinch our state's GOP nomination. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is leading the Democratic primary over Andy Dillon by 16 points. Neither contest has been projected yet.

I visted Snyder's campaign site and I was so surprised at what I saw. I am hoping he means it all, because we really need a more moderate governor here.

And a new update just now: Virg Bernero has won the Democratic primary for governor. All eyes now are on the Republican primary, to see who will represent the Grand Old Party ticket this November in Michigan.
Rick Snyder has won the Republican nomination for governor of Michigan. The nominees are set now.

In case you were wondering...

Snyder (Republican) looks like he will win, but Bernero (Dem) is closing the gap recently. Snyder was enjoying a 20 points lead for quite awhile but now it's down to about 10%.

Wow-he pulled it off! Go Moderates! Keep up the fight! Here's a link to the Detroit News on the results for the Dem and GOP primaries for MI governor. I thought I saw somewhere that Snyder leads pretty strongly vs. Bernero when they were matched up hypothetically and he does have a huge $ advantage, so he has a very good shot. What do you think of Bernero? I love how Snyder ran as "one tough nerd" and I also looked at his website and loved that he did not hide his moderation. Hey, these days, I am just happy when a GOP website does not mention the birther conspiracy!

Well I don't think I know enough about Bernero, but he sounds like an equally good candidate for the office. I know that he is the current mayor of Lansing, and he has made statements lamenting the failures of the current administration of Governor Granholm, and his primary opponent, House Speaker Andy Dillon. I think for the first time in a long time, both parties have put up a good candidate, and it's gonna be hard to commit my vote either way this November.

Link from TPM. Could this be a hopeful pattern? Another Republican Moderate beats 2 ultra-fringe primary opponents in Tennessee-by a huge margin!

For weeks the second and third place candidates for the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial nomination have been battling it out to see if they could say something crazy enough to take the lead away from Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.

Rep. Zach Wamp threatened to have Tennessee secede from the United States over Health Care Reform unless voters force its repeal before 2012. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said the 1st Amendment may not apply to Islam since its a cult and not a religion.

Tonight though the relatively moderate Haslam crushed Wamp and Ramsey, beating first runner up Wamp by 19 points.


One Moderate was not so lucky. Rep Bob Inglis (Republican from SC) was crushed in his primary, thanks to the Tea Party backlash against Moderates. He spoke out about the "crazies" he would encounter on the campaign trail to CNN. Scary stuff!

CNN host Rick Sanchez went over a recent piece on Inglis in Mother Jones, in which Inglis talked about the crazies that he would come across on the campaign trail.

Sanchez read from Inglis's recollection of a conversation with some voters: "'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.'"

Sanchez asked Inglis who these people were. And in response, Inglis conceded he might have done better politically had he humored them.

"That was several 80-year-old couples that were expressing their views. And you know, what I should have said was, 'Over my dead body that's gonna happen. I can guarantee it's not gonna happen,'" said Inglis. "That would have been the better answer, wouldn't it? Rather than the one I gave, which is, 'Well it's not quite that bad, let's keep it within the realm of facts.'"

Sanchez read from another excerpt: "'I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there's a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life's earnings' -- I'm gonna try and not laugh here -- 'and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, 'What the heck are you talking about?' I'm trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, 'You don't know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don't know this?!'"

Inglis responded: "Well you know, I think that my colleague put it well to me last week. She said that her father used to tell her, 'Leaders can either lead -- or mislead.' And you know, if you're gonna lead, you need to lead with facts. And you need to help people the realities that we face."




Since you are rooting for the Democrats,why are you still caliing yourself Republicans??

Even if you were perhaps once upon a time Republican,clearly you arent so right now!

how about some truth in labelling?



Sorry to confuse you. The GOP used to welcome and accept moderates like me. I am more of a "Colin Powell/Olympia Snowe/Susan Collins/Meghan McCain" type-Republican. I'm sure you'd call me and that group I admire RINO's or worse names. I am progressive on social issues and feel the Democratic Party is actually more in tune with keeping the Constitution in tact and keeping the government out of our personal business (abortion, gay rights, etc.) Trust me, I know it's weird for a Republican to be such a fan of the president and a cheerleader for the Democrats. Call it my rebellion agains the Tea Party taking over the GOP with it's very extreme, dangerous, racist rhetoric. The Republican Party would really have to change it's ways to win me back because I will enthusiastically vote Democrat or Independent until I see an embrace of moderate voices again. I'm very close to giving up, mainly because the GOP is practically pushing me out the door. I'm not dumb-I can read their signs pretty clearly "Moderates go home, not welcome here. That guy who thinks Obama is from Kenya can take your place." But the optimist in me thinks that maybe if they suffer a crush on Nov. 2nd this year (or come up short of taking over the House) or even if they win big and quickly realize what the Tea Party candidates are all about in the near future, perhaps they will see the error of their ways. I have all options on the table. It's very hard for me to associate with the GOP label (wondering if people think of people like Paladino or Angle when they hear I am a Republican and wonder if I am also a racist, bigot, etc.) so I certainly keep it quiet these days. Since I volunteer and donate to Democratic causes, most people proabably assume I am a Demcocrat. Listening to Meghan McCain (who is as much of a gays rights advocate as I am and sees that O'Donnell and her kind are a joke) gives me that sliver of hope I need to hang on a little longer.

Republicans at one time not only had a moderate wing, but up until the 1980s had a downright liberal wing.  Think Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, or Jacob Javits.  The Democrats had a strong conservative contingent especially in the South.  

Liberal Republicans are pretty much extinct and many of the conservative Democrats that are still around are either retiring or will probably lose in two weeks. 

But I wonder if we are better off with the Republicans being the "conservative" party and the Democrats being the "liberal" party or were we better off when both parties had all kinds of factions.  At least today you usually know what you are getting when you vote for someone with a R or D next to their name.

Could you then make a case for a real 3rd party that could be the "moderate party."  Would you be open to a 3rd party Kelly if it was a serious effort led by someone like Colin Powell?

I can't speak for Kelly, but I certainly would support a serious 3rd Party that was moderate in orientation.  Socially Moderate and Sensible & Fiscally Responsible (without being in the pockets of the Corporations).  Something similar to what the Tories in the UK are right now (with some major adjustments, no doubt) with the current Austerity measures that they passed today.  


Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is. 

-- Benjamin Franklin

Today I came across a very interesting (as well as lengthy and scary) article that covered the history of the Republican Party from the 1950s until now.  It appears with the presence of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party that many are returning to the paranoia of the John Birch Society of the Cold War era, and this time the leaders of the Republican Party aren't fighting it.  There is no longer a William Buckley to try to maintain a sane course, and true conservatives such as Bob Frum lose their positions with conservative think tanks.
Great points, Minnifgirl. I'm glad to see this moderate Republican in Michigan still "in the game" but it is rare for them to get support from the base or leaders, even in Blue states. Maddow highlighted how the old "Southern Strategy" has made a comeback recently. It doesn't shock me that some in the Republican party would say racist, totally off the wall things. What shocks and disappoints me is that they are no longer scolded or shamed for it by the party leaders. Instead, they are embraced. Which tells me leaders are either afraid of offending the Tea Party, they agree with things like brining back literacy tests, or they just think it's an effective strategy (at least in the short term.) Seeing this segment really makes me question why I am still a Republican and how much longer I can take this. Where is the moral leadership and why are blatant racists allowed to hijack my party?

It doesn't shock me that some in the Republican party would say racist, totally off the wall things. What shocks and disappoints me is that they are no longer scolded or shamed for it by the party leaders.

They know that by playing to their racist views, they have the loyal following of the fearful white voters.  These people are easily manipulated by anyone who will play to their fears that the day will come when "white people" will be a minority in this country. They fear losing control. If they are honest, they are afraid that one day the tables will be turned and their children will encounter the same discrimination they so proudly dish out today. 

So in some areas, like in Michigan and Tennessee, moderate Republicans are winning primary elections. But in many other cases, the Tea Party favorites are winning. I see no comparison to explain why the moderates are having better luck in those two states and not in other areas. Well, it still seems like the more moderate choices are gaining a bounce, at least for now, in the general election polls. Still sitting nervous about November. And, still surprised that Snyder did prevail here in Michigan. That's about the one contest I look forward to the most this fall.

From The Hill. Looks like Moderation is a VERY bad word in Tea Party land. I really think the Tea Party is going to be similar to a long night of drinking for the GOP. At first it seems so great and the night gets better with every beer or shot, everybody is happy, dancing, singing, whatever and then things suddenly get a little fuzzy and the next thing you know you wake up (perhaps next to a stranger) and the hangover and regrets begin. We might be at the hangover stage. Dick Armey's message is: go hard right (as if they are not already) or else. I can smell "3rd Party" and don't expect Palin to be loyal to the GOP. She'd be the first to bolt. So they have a choice:

1. Make nice with the Tea Party and openly embrace Paul Ryan's "away with Social Security" plan while alienating the Moderate and Independent (and pretty much all elderly) voters out there.

2. Keep their distance from the Paul Ryan plan and alienate their "base"-the Tea Partiers. If they don't get those "angry, enthused" Tea Partiers out to vote, they certainly won't get the landslide victory they are already celebrating.

Big dilema.

Check out this comment after the article:

Goodbye to Collins ..Snowe..Brown..Graham..when it's your turn. We did need leaders..yet you voted with the enemies of freedom. The days of Americas decline are coming to an end. Our childrens future are more important than your political pandering to the commies.
BY Say NO 2 RINOS on 08/22/2010 at 13:08


Oh, honey, they aren't in the hangover stage yet.  They are in the angry drunk stage where they think they are bulletproof and are trying to pick a fight.  You know, you've seen the guys on "Cops" in their wifebeaters or shirtless kinda drooling and ranting and stumbling around.  That's them.

Ha-I think you've got it right. I'm jumping the gun. They are still dazed and drunk-definitely angry drunk-and the full impact of their poor decisions have not yet hit them. Pretty soon they will stumble around and a Tea Party buddy will hand them their car keys, knowing they are wasted and dangerous and heading for trouble. They will only know it's too late after the crash. Let's hope nobody else gets hurt in this "accident." Sometimes one has to hit rock bottom before they can get the help they really need.

Kelly - The problem is that sometimes in a car wreck involving a mad angry drunk at the wheel, everyone in the other car is killed and the drunk driver come out without a scratch.

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." -- Mark Knopfler

John McCain won last night's Arizona GOP primary for the US Senate, as you all know by now I'm sure. I've got mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I'm glad he is your party's pick for that seat over the Tea Party candidate. On the other hand, I'm hoping he does not launch the same general election strategy that he used in the 2008 Presidential race. And, it's now a three-way race for the Senate seat in Florida. I look at that and recall the 2006 race between Lieberman, Lamont and Schlesinger in Conneticuit. I'm under the opinion that that election will end up between the Democrat and the Independent, like the 2006 race, but what do y'all think?

Oh, I am still not committed on my vote for Michigan governor, and am still considering voting for the Snyder/Calley ticket. Yes, state legislator Brian Calley, a bipartisan conservative, has been named to be his running mate for Lt. Governor. It sounds like a good Republican ticket, almost too good. Someone tell me to vote for either Snyder or Virg Bernero and I am likely to listen to ya.

 Well, I have an online seminar in one of my university classes beginning now.

I think McCain will have to dial back many of the far-right stances he took during the primary to ensure those Moderate (and Hispanic) voters, but I'm not sure he is "feeling it." I mean, he is all about disrupting Obama's agenda these days so I can't imagine him saying he will return to maverick McCain, work in a bipartisan way, and support anything President Obama supports. He is still very bitter. I suspect his campign will be about Obama-bashing simply because he can't resist. I don't think he has any real competition for his Senate seat, but as we saw with Murkowski in Alaska, one can never be too complacent and McCain has always been vulnerable to slip-ups.

Someone help me out here: Arizona does have a decent Hispanic population. Could they spoil the election for McCain or is the expectation that they'll stay home? I would love to see a surprise surge in Hispanic and minority voters in November turn the "predictions" upside down to show their collective voice, but I'm not holding my breath. As for Florida, I was kind of hoping Meek would lose just so Dem's could more easily support Crist. I still think Crist will pull it out, but I'd be happy with a Meek miracle win. And I sure hope Sink wins for Gov. of Florida-although it's tough when your opponent has an endless stock pile of money. I don't know enough about Michigan races to advice you but I trust you'll do your research and pick the right people. Keep us posted.

Where's the "like" button?? ;-)

The progressive bloggers etc are encouraging quietly supporting and voting for Crist.  They feel the climb is too high for Meeks to win, and if the vote is split, Rubio will take the state.

Yeah, I hope that we see Maverick McCain running in this election, but that is optimism on my part. I am still recalling what he said soon after the HCR package was passed, about no more cooperation with the President on anything for the remainder of 2010. I think many, including him, are still quite sour about its passage.

As for Michigan, the incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm (D) is retiring due to term limits. Right now, she and Lt. Governor John Cherry (D) are very unpopular in this state, and it's due to our economic plight, and our struggling auto industry and education system. I do not reserve much hope for a Democratic victory here in November, but I could still be surprised.

Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, has been running on a sort of populist message. He has won endorsements from such major groups as the AFL-CIO, Michigan Education Association, and the League of Conservation Voters for his pro-union, pro-education reform, and pro-environmental records. Bernero's main opponent for the Democratic nomination was House Speaker Andy Dillon, who he tied to the failures of the Granholm administration. Bernero once called himself "America's angriest mayor." I don't know who he is going to pick for his running mate, but the party conventions are this weekend.

Rick Snyder is a political outsider, with virtually no political experience coming into these midterms. As I understand it, he's had no government positions at the local, state or federal level, he is a businessman. But he is a businessman with a more moderate record, taking a fiscally conservative approach, with some progressive views on a few social issues, like stem cell research. His running mate, Rep. Brian Calley, is a more conservative person, but has a history of finding common-ground solutions with the majority Democrats.

If anything, what I really want to see in Lansing is a moderate and bipartisan governance, one that is willing to break the partisan deadlock in Lansing and get us back on our feet. Right now the Democrats have the governor's mansion and the House of Representatives, but the Republicans control the Senate, and in several years, the constant partisan bickering has led to a couple shut-downs of the government. I look at the two campaigns and I think either candidate can do the job of ending the deadlock and get Michigan moving again.

Thanks for all the details. I love your statement about wanting to see moderate and bipartisan governance. Imagine how much could be accomplished with that formula!

The latest poll shows Sink leading Rick Scott (still shocked that Fl GOP voters would NOMINATE this guy last night! Sorry, he creeps me out!) but this is before he injects his mega-millions into the race. These moments make me long for REAL campaign finance reform!! Please let the voters see through his scam and prevent him from "buying" his way into the Governor's office.

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