Examiner Editorial: GOP moderates should heed their own advice

For decades, moderate Republican officeholders and party officials — encouraged by experts in the liberal commentariat — lectured conservatives that the GOP had to be a “big tent,” that in order to win elections the party’s candidates had to “move to the center.” For that reason, defeated conservatives were supposed to support winning moderates, especially in liberal Northeastern states. Failing to do so was “divisive,” according to the experts.

There was indeed wisdom in the principle, as articulated in William F. Buckley’s maxim that conservatives should vote “for the conservative most able to win,” and in President Ronald Reagan’s famous 11th commandment that “thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.”

But some of the nation’s most prominent moderate Republicans are singing different tunes now, especially when Republican primary voters turn them out of office.

Sen. Arlen Specter, long a leading moderate Republican, switched parties when it became clear he would lose his primary race against former Rep. Pat Toomey. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was touted as the clear favorite to win in the Senate GOP primary race. But when his standing in the polls dropped like a rock against the conservative choice, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, Crist opted to run as an independent rather than accept the voters’ decision.

Similarly, Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary in Alaska to insurgent tea party activist candidate Joe Miller. Now she’s planning to run as a write-in candidate. In Delaware, Rep. Mike Castle lost his Senate primary to tea party activist Christine O’Donnell and now refuses to endorse her against Democrat Chris Coons.

By contrast, when the three conservative candidates endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund lost their primaries to more-moderate GOP candidates, all three — Marlin Stutzman in Indiana, Chuck Devore in California and Ovide Lamontagne in New Hampshire — quickly announced their unqualified support for the victors. So, which wing of the GOP is actually supporting the “big tent” and which appears determined to make it impossible for winners of Republican primaries to beat Democrats in November?

Murkowski’s bitter reaction could be the most destructive because she could pull just enough votes away from Miller to ensure a Democrat wins in November. Miller, father of eight and a respected Fairbanks lawyer, is a Yale University graduate who won the Bronze Star in combat during the first Gulf War. He advocates the same common-sense conservative positions that are attracting support across the country.

It’s time for moderates like Murkowski to practice what they preached to conservatives for so long.

editorialsNEPOpinion

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Gombojav Zandanshatar said his country and San Francisco face similar challenges on issues including COVID recovery and climate change.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Mongolian leaders meet with tech, film leaders on city tour

‘I really want San Franciscans to meet the new Mongolian generation’

Most Read