View to Washington: Inclusive Republicans Eye Congress

A crop of inclusive Republicans like N.Y. assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava are challenging formerly predictable trends about which party presents pro-LGBT candidates.

BY Kerry Eleveld

July 25 2009 12:00 AM ET

While his challenger, Democrat Scott Murphy, supports civil unions and gun rights -- much like Gillibrand before she jumped chambers -- Tedisco's brand of conservatism made Murphy look like a prince. Apparently, even the historically Republican 20th district just couldn't squeeze out enough votes to elect him. And although Tedisco lost by a razor-thin margin, the GOP's Monday morning quarterbacks concluded that moderate state senator Betty Little "would have crushed Murphy," according to one Republican insider.

That revelation seems to be taking hold in enclaves outside of New York as well.

In Illinois, Republican Party leaders just cleared the deck for Congressman Mark Kirk to run for Barack Obama's former seat after it was briefly visited by Roland Burris. Though Kirk is not on the record for marriage equality, he cosponsored the House's hate-crimes bill, voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, and voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in both 2004 and 2006.

Kirk may be assailed by some die-hard social conservatives as a traitor and a RINO (Republican in Name Only), but clearly the GOP leadership senses that he is their best hope to win back a seat from Democrats.

Indeed, a leading Republican operative recently included Kirk in a list of three moderate Republicans who give him hope for future GOP Senate pickups.

"My fellow conservatives may not like this one," wrote Fred Malek in defense of his plug for moderates, "but hear me out: Unless our party can embrace a big-tent policy that welcomes moderates like my friend Colin Powell, we will not win elections. In liberal-dominated Illinois, Delaware, and increasingly purple Florida, we need to be open to supporting officials who can win and will support our issues most of the time, instead of electing more Democrats who will oppose us nearly all of the time."

Tags: Politics

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