Saturday, August 22, 2009

Troubles At The Base-- Can Bob Inglis Survive The GOP Primary?


South Carolina Republicans have a choice to make

As Dan Balz pointed out in this morning's Washington Post most of the noise about health care reform lately isn't coming from the crazed birthers and deathers and kooks in tri-corner hats with semi-automatics strapped to their legs (although, flush with funding from Big Insurance for their Recess Rallies, they certainly haven't given up), but from normal Americans who want health care reform.

Balz speculates that Obama is "trying to tamp down a noisy uprising on the left." Really? Our own noisy grassroots uprising on the left may not be something Insurance Industry shill Rahm Emanuel is happy about but we're getting lots of encouragement from inside the Beltway for our efforts, including from inside the Administration. Balz:
The immediate cause for the rebellion is growing concern among Obama's progressive allies that he is prepared to deal away the public insurance option to win passage of a health care bill. Obama insists that he still prefers the public option as part of any eventual legislative package, but some of his friends on the left now clearly doubt his resolve.

That has given way to broader criticisms: Is Obama tough enough to defeat the interests arrayed against health care legislation? Has he lost the passion that was such an asset during the campaign? Have his rhetorical skills been muted as he descends into the dry, arcane details of health care? Is he too enamored of bipartisan consensus, given what is seen as Republican implacability? Has he given up the moral high ground in the health care battle?

From liberal commentators to progressive bloggers to grass-roots activists who went door-to-door during the campaign, there has been a chorus of concerns raised about Obama-- on health care strategy, on the deals he and his team have struck with the health care industry, on the stepped-up troop commitment in Afghanistan, on detainees and torture policy.

...The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that Obama's overall approval rating among liberals has gone from 94 percent at the 100-day mark of his presidency in April to 84 percent today. Fifteen percent now disapprove, up from 1 percent in April.

None of this should be of much concern to conservative 6-term South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis (from a crazed upstate district-- Spartanburg/Greenville-- that only mustered 38% for Obama last year, significantly less than the 45% he garnered statewide). It's DeMint's old district and Inglis was first elected, after a hiatus, to follow him with 70% of the vote (even better than DeMint's last re-election for the House) and then was re-elected in two Democratic swing years, 2006 and 2008 with 64% and 61%, respectively. They like him well-enough there, right? Maybe not-- especially not after he told a mob of angry teabaggers to stop listening to hate-talk sociopath Glenn Beck earlier this month. Now it looks like Inglis-- like two other South Carolina conservatives, Henry Brown and Joe Wilson, who consider themselves more in line with Reagan Republicanism than Limbaugh Republicanism-- may well be in for some serious trouble holding onto his seat.
[T]he 2010 election will test whether Inglis’ strongly Republican-leaning constituency in the South Carolina’s 4th District believes he is conservative enough. That’s because the six-term congressman has drawn four Republican primary challengers who argue that he isn’t.

Republican State Sen. David Thomas, when he launched his primary campaign in June, said he was “disappointed” in Inglis for voting in early 2007 against the buildup of U.S. troops in the Iraq conflict-- a policy, instituted by President George W. Bush, known as the “troop surge”-- and for voting in late 2008 for the financial industry assistance, or “bailout,” measure (PL 110-343).

Candidate Christina Jeffrey, a professor at Wofford College in Spartanburg, said in a statement on her Web site that Inglis is “symbolic of the path many Republicans have taken over the past few years as he has continued to compromise our conservative values.”

Other candidates include Trey Gowdy, a prosecutor, and Jim Lee, an information technology and business consultant. Gowdy, on his Web site, said there is a “near total disconnect between Washington and the people of the 4th Congressional District,” while Lee derided Inglis as a man who has “lost his focus and is now part of the system he originally went to Washington to change.”

When Inglis returned to Congress in 2004 he was less of a radical right firebrand and more of a pragmatic conservative. He backed a few Democratic proposals, though not as many as, say, far right kook Eric Cantor. Inglis grouses that he's drawn so much opposition this year to his own party's lunatic fringe. “Apparently I don’t spit and flail enough,” he said.

The right-wing website We choose to keep Glenn Beck and replace Bob! may augur rough sailing ahead in a crowded primary where Inglis needs to get 50% to avoid a run-off that could expose him to a major push from the kinds of passionate far right Know Nothings who are overwhelming Charlie Crist in Florida and giving wild-eyed extremist Marco Rubio wins in all the GOP district straw polls. Looks like it isn't just the Democrats with a little explaining to do to their own base.
If Republican Executive Committees decided statewide primary elections, Charlie Crist's senate campaign would be in big trouble. The Pasco and Lee county RECs have held informal straw polls lately, where Marco Rubio blew away Crist among the party faithful. Last night, the Highlands GOP held their own vote that produced 75 votes for Rubio and one for Crist.

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