By Stephen Richer
Ramesh Ponnuru recently asked “Do Republicans even want to win?” Perhaps some Republicans are happier sitting on the sidelines, taking swipes at whoever gives offense in the slightest, even if it hurts the party’s national chances. Witness Chris Christie (Ponnuru said): Christie has the capacity to win big elections by big margins (he got 60% of the reelection vote in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 700,000 voters), and he commands respect with voters across the country and across the political spectrum. And yet, Christie didn’t get an invite to last year’s CPAC conference.
Winning of course has to be balanced with party principles. Those principles could be limited government, traditional values, or a strong military — we all have an idea of the core, line-in-the-sand, definition of being a real Republican.
It’s a tough balance. I’m curious to see how it plays out in the context of Boehner’s recent announcement of support for gay GOP candidates (in response to Representative Randy Forbes’s (R-VA) anti-gay comments). Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the NRCC, offered a lengthier rebuttal:
“Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender or sexual orientation but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats,”
The back-and-forth has caused a good amount of chatter in the Republican blogosphere. But it remains to be seen which camp is louder: “Shutup Forbes; we simply need candidates who can win” or “This party needs principles!”
We’ll keep our eye on it. But all in all, not a bad turn of affairs for the pro-equality wing of the Republican Party. As Stephen Miller of IGF Culture Watch puts it:
It’s not surprising that a GOP House member (in this case, Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia), would call on his party to withhold support for openly gay Republicans running for Congress . . . What is surprising is that the House leadership would make it eminently clear it will support gay Republicans who secure their party’s nomination in congressional races.