Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) told Breitbart News that his party’s leaders should be very careful about targeting conservative members associated with the Tea Party, as the reason Republicans hold a majority in the lower chamber is because Tea Party activists voted in a wave of conservatives in 2010.
“The Tea Party was the majority maker for House Republicans; without much of these new conservatives, there would not be a Speaker Boehner. There would not be an opportunity to push back on Obamacare, so it’s pretty clear,” said Huelskamp. “But the Tea Party is not some small part–it is the conservative wing of the [Republican] Party, which is a pretty strong majority. I mean it’s taken on some key tenets of the Republican Party, which are conservative.”
Moderate Republicans appear most concerned about the effect conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will have on the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections, and mainstream media outlets are taking delight in this worry. However, according to the Center for Politics, if the GOP is successfully blamed for the government shutdown, it is not conservative Republicans who need to worry about running in tough races. More importantly, even if those GOP moderates lose those seats in 2014, the analysis says, the GOP is not necessarily in danger of losing the House:
Let’s be clear here: This is largely a thought experiment. Republicans have plenty of things going for them in the 2014 midterms. There’s no historical precedent for the president’s party to take over the House from the other party in a midterm; indeed, history tells us that the “out” presidential party — in this case, the GOP — is likelier to gain seats than the “in” party. The president’s approval rating as measured by the HuffPost Pollster average is actually worse today — 43.4% approve, 51.0% disapprove — than it was right before the 2010 midterm (45.1% approve, 49.9% disapprove).
As we’ve shown recently — and as Prof. Arrington’s piece indicates — Democrats are going to have to really dominate the House generic ballot, and Election Day national House vote margin, to have a real chance at taking back the House.
However, if Republicans do open the door to the Democrats in the House, it’s not going to be the “Ted Cruz Republicans” who will pay the price. Rather, it’s the House Republicans in marginal districts who could see their ranks decimated, just like the House Democratic moderates whose anti-Obamacare votes couldn’t save them in 2010.
Does the outrage from moderate Republicans towards conservatives have more to do with the fact that moderates could lose hefty influence within the party after the 2014 midterm elections?
“The Tea Party is another name for the conservative base of the party,” Huelskamp explained. “And if you want to be president and if you want to be a leader around here, you have to at least say you’re a conservative. And so it’s folks, particularly that I hear are negotiating at the White House, that are negotiating away or are potentially negotiating away conservative principles, and I think they risk jeopardizing the future leadership of this House,” he said.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blamed the government shutdown on the Tea Party:
“We started this on a fool’s errand, convincing so many millions of Americans and our supporters that we could defund Obamacare,” McCain said.
While McCain didn’t name names, he faulted members of Congress — “tea partiers specifically” — for wrongly telling “millions of Americans” that Obamacare can be defunded.
That “obviously wouldn’t happen until we had 67 Republican senators to override a presidential veto,” McCain said.
Huelskamp noted the rift between “Wall Street types” and the rest of the party who are more conservative and who he believes get ignored too often. “Those are Tea Party as well in my area… that’s how John McCain got the nomination and he’s still doing that. It gets him press, but it doesn’t get anything done. And it certainly was conservatives and Tea Party folks that made John Boehner the Speaker, and if Cantor, McCarthy, and Paul Ryan decide they’re going to abandon conservative principles, it will jeopardize their leadership roles in the Party,” he said. Huelskamp recalled how much moderates complained about the 21-hour speech Senator Cruz made on the floor of the upper chamber.
They complained that people were speaking of Obamacare but I did see a deep distinctive difference between how long you’ve been here or not or what’s too conservative or liberal. If you went home and actually conducted town halls in August, you got a message, because people care about it. And I think Washington likes to deride these views as tea party and it’s a minority, but the clear majority of the Republican Party 80 to 90 percent is saying, ‘We don’t want Obamacare.’ John Boehner said that. I put out a statement saying, ‘I hope you hold firm to that.’ John Boehner said, ‘They don’t want a government shut down and they don’t want Obamacare and the rumors are there about ready to give up stopping Obamacare and then open the government back up. I think we can do both principles at once.'”
House GOP leadership, along with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), have sent a proposal to the White House which would lift the debt ceiling for six weeks, as well as reopen government through December 15th. Additionally, the AP is reporting the reopening of the government will entail Republicans agreeing to raise America’s debt over the current $16.7 trillion limit and funding Obamacare substantially.