The rails of the crazy train
In case you were believing the hype about the crazy Tea Party being vanquished by the sober Republican establishment, Ed Kilgore takes a look at a couple of House races in Georgia:
One of the most common Twitter-memes early last night was that no matter who won the ultimate Senate prize, Congress would be rid of Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, two of the members most likely to say very crazy things.
Before celebrating their departure, you might want to take a look at the contests to replace these two men in heavily Republican districts. In both cases, the top finisher last night was someone I had singled out in the past to exemplify the scary “bench” being built by the GA GOP.
In Broun’s district, the leader of the pack and a runoff finalist is the Rev. Jody Hice, a raging homophobe and long-time opponent of church-state separation, who became nationally famous in an earlier campaign for putting up billboards featuring the legend “Tired of Obama’s Change?” with the “c” in “Change” turned into a hammer-and-sickle. He faces a wealthy trucking executive in the runoff, but if the turnout is as low as I think it will be, Hice should be considered the front-runner.
Meanwhile, in Gingrey’s district, a big well-funded field was trounced by a former state senator named Barry Loudermilk, who is a classic, teeth-grinding “constitutional conservative” whom I profiled here more than a year ago:
Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway as a “constitutionalist somewhat in the mold of Paul Broun,” Loudermilk became famous even before running for office as the author of a post-9/11 local newspaper screed that went globally viral, encouraging non-Christians and immigrants to pack up and leave America if they didn’t like “our culture.” During his climb through the Georgia Republican ranks, Loudermilk has championed a variety of anti-immigrant bills, “personhood” initiatives, efforts to shut down all state agencies not specifically authorized by the state constitution, and serial theocratic gestures. He was also one of the participants in a colleague’s “briefing” for state senators on the evil United Nations Agenda 21 effort to destroy private property rights.
It’s a token of how far things have gotten out of control in the Georgia GOP that Loudermilk’s runoff opponent, Bob Barr, will be the RINO in the contest. Barr outspent Loudermilk, and obviously (he represented much of this area in the House before redistricting threw him into a losing battle-of-incumbents with John Linder) had a name ID advantage, but trailed him 26-37 last night and will be a heavy underdog in the runoff, I would guess.
Bob Barr is a RINO. That tells you something.
And then there's this:
The Chamber of Commerce has had a triumphant few weeks.
Key candidates supported by business lobby have won their Republican primaries, some in big upsets. But five of the candidates stand in opposition to one of the core issues the Chamber of Commerce has lobbied hardest for: major legislation on immigration.
Chamber president Tom Donohue has been strident for months, insisting Republicans must pass new immigration laws.
“We’ll be absolutely crazy if we don’t take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate,” he said just a few weeks ago, remarking that Republicans shouldn’t “shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016” if immigration reform doesn’t get done. But none of the endorsed candidates who have won with the Chamber’s endorsements are proponents of the Chamber-supported Senate bill.
But practically all of their candidates have said that immigration reform can’t happen without border security first, however, and fixing current law needs to be a priority. And many view the Senate bill as “amnesty” for the 11 million undocumented immigrations in the U.S.
It's hard to know what game the Chamber is playing. Maybe they've been able to secure promises that these folks would vote for IR if push came to shove. Or maybe the Chamber doesn't really care about immigration. Either way, you cannot really make the case that the "reasonable" Republicans are back in charge. They actually don't exist.