How would you like to be the deciding vote in the Senate right now?
Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Obama’s incoming budget director, Peter R. Orszag, have met with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) about economic stimulus legislation. Obama’s team has consulted Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), an expert on education, about school issues. Obama’s choice for secretary of Transportation — Ray LaHood of Illinois — was a moderate GOP leader in the House until he retired this year.
But if recent elections are any guide, being a moderate — one who supports abortion rights, for example, opposed the war in Iraq or supported labor unions — is hazardous to a Republican’s political health.
Swing voters have been alienated by President Bush’s policies and perceptions that the Republican Party is dominated by extremists.
The litany of Republican lawmakers who lost reelection over the last few years includes such centrists as Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), who were defeated in 2008. Retirees this year included such moderates as Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.).
Okay, reality check time for the LA Times…
Did moderate politics sink these Republicans? Or was it the national wave of anti-Republicanism brought on by the economic collapse and 8 years of George W. Bush?
Personally, I think voters in blue states like Oregon and Connecticut simply had enough and were willing to give Dems greater control of the national legislative agenda. And it’s not like the Dems they elected ran on far left platforms.
Also, the net effect of this is that the remaining moderates in the Senate will have a much louder voice when close votes come up on big issues like economic stimulus and health care reform.
So yes, I think it’s a pretty good time to be a moderate Republican, but tell me what you think.