Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Circular Firing Squad Next Time

cross-posted at Dagblog

I guess I wasn't the only person who woke up this morning focusing on the next election cycle. Erick Erickson of Red State opened discussion of which Republican Senators to challenge in the 2012 primaries at 8 am this morning. (h/t DougJ) Erickson's post is titled "Potential Tea Party Targets for 2012."

Which Republican Senators make his initial list? All of them.

Here is a list of potential targets for primaries — these are all of the Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2012:

John Barasso (WY)
Scott Brown (MA)
Bob Corker (TN)
John Ensign (NV)
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)
Jon Kyl (AZ)
Richard Lugar (IN)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Roger Wicker (MS)

Note that this is just the list of Senate Republicans running. Not all will be targets, but it will be from these men and women that the tea party movement starts looking for targets.

Now, before you all get giddy about Olympia Snowe, I would respectfully suggest that Corker, Hatch, Hutchison, Lugar, and Wicker make better targets as we have a much greater certainty of both beating them in primaries and also winning the general election.

Wicker and Corker in particular make exciting prospects for the tea party movement.

That's just amazing strategery there. The list itself doesn't look terribly appetizing from the Democratic viewpoint: the Republicans only have to defend 10 of their 47 seats next cycle, and most of the seats they'll be defending are in what is currently deep red territory, forcing the Democrats to expand their map in a big way if they're going to play offense. Brown is certainly someone the Democrats will want to challenge, and if he looks vulnerable I'd expect a strong challenger.

That part of the Republican base, or at least the right-wing-pundit base, is so deeply committed to intramural bloodletting is startling. It certainly suggests that Republican incumbents will feel a genuine pressure not to compromise with the Democrats. That's not good if you're looking for the country to actually be, you know, governed. It also suggests that the national Republicans may still be in for a bumpy ride. I've never seen the circular firing squad forming up the day after a victory before.

Erickson might try to keep the Tea Party faithful from going after Snowe or Brown, but it's not as if they take marching orders from anyone. If the "practical" Tea Party types are going after Bob Corker and Roger Wicker, and simply hoping that their fellows in the movement will have the tactical sense to leave Snowe and Brown alone ... that doesn't seem likely.

Of course, both Erickson and I are blogging as if the political environment in early 2012 will be unchanged from the political environment today, which is never a safe bet. But I certainly expect the Tea Party elements of the GOP to be angered and disappointed by the conduct of the House and Senate, no matter what happens. (They will be angry if Boehner and McConnell eventually come around to some kind of deal with Obama and Reid. But they will also be angry if the GOP adopts the most extremist tactics possible, because short of a two-thirds supermajority in both houses, those tactics will fail, and the Tea Party crowd will look for RINO scapegoats when they do.) And part of me wonders what happens in states where senatorial, gubernatorial, and House primaries happen on the same day that presidential primaries do ... that's a lot of political passion to stir into the mix.

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