The Paul Broun Mainstream

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

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.