With Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent, rather than as a Republican, MSNBC takes a look at a phenomenon that Republicans out West have seen firsthand for years:
Crist’s fall from the GOP’s favor has been dramatic. Once considered a shoo-in for the seat, the prized recruit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee now trails by more than 20 points to an upstart former House speaker. Crist, strategists say, failed to take Republican challenger Marco Rubio seriously.
His decline is also one of a handful of examples of GOP races across the country in which the Republican Party’s internal ideological battle – a tug of war between the pragmatists and the purists – has been on full display.
Despite GOP’s expected short-term gains this fall – largely owed to the nation’s high unemployment rate – problems still lurk for the party’s long-term stability. Republicans’ ideological civil war, the recent passage of a controversial Arizona immigration law, and an uncertain shortlist of Obama challengers all raise questions about its ability to compete on a presidential level…
…The GOP’s ideological fight has raged since President Barack Obama was elected in November of 2008. Bolstered by the Tea Party movement, GOP purists have argued for the purge of members who fail to adhere to strict conservative views. But some other Republicans worry that the quest for purity will eliminate candidates best equipped to prevail against Democratic opponents in a general election.
It’s interesting to see national reporters finally paying more attention to an issue that has been obvious here in Colorado — and in other Western states — for several election cycles. This is the big downside of the “Tea Party,” as we’ve discussed before, because it only exacerbates the feeling by GOP candidates that they can never be far enough to the right. Yet the more they move to the right, the further they move away from a position that would better suit them in a General Election.
It’s happening again in Colorado this year, with GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis staying as far to the right as he can and Senate candidates Jane Norton, Ken Buck and Tom Wiens all trying to out-conservative each other in order to win the Republican Primary — all of which makes them vulnerable in a General Election in which Colorado voters have shown a preference for whichever candidate is more moderate.