In the Wild West House, a group of ‘midterm mustangs’ keep establishment Republicans on their toes

If Speaker John Boehner’s House is the frontier of Congresses, with a band of cowboy congressional leaders trying to break in 87 new horses, who do you picture as the bucking stallions? Would it be new lawmakers representing the reddest of red districts, in states like Mississippi, Texas and Utah? How about freshmen representing districts deep in Democratic territory — that not only President Obama, but Sen. John Kerry won in his campaign for president in 2004?

Consider this study in contrasts:

Freshmen Republican Rep. Alan Nunnelee represents Mississippi’s 1st District, where John McCain won 62 percent of the vote in 2008 and George W. Bush won 62 percent in 2004. Cook Political Report rates it R+14. Nunnelee beat fluke Democratic Rep. Travis Childers who’d won by splitting Republican opposition. The district had been in Republican hands for 14 years.

But in a key amendment vote pushed by House conservatives — and vigorously opposed by GOP leaders — to cut $22 billion more from the continuing resolution (CR) spending bill on Friday, Nunnelee voted no.

Meanwhile, freshman Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle represents New York’s 25th District, where President Obama won with 56 percent of the vote. John Kerry and Al Gore won there, too. Cook Political Report rates it a D+3. But on the conservative spending amendment, Buerkle voted yes, potentially placing her in peril in her blue district.

As different as Nunnelee’s and Buerkle’s districts are, so were the ways they came to Washington, which may help explain their votes, insiders say.

Nunnelee won a competitive primary, besting Tea Party favorite Angela McGlowan, who announced her candidacy at the National Tea Party Forum. In the general election, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the party leadership’s campaign arm, spent almost $1 million helping Nunnelee win.

In contrast, Buerkle got hardly any help from the NRCC: $85,000. None of the expert political handicappers thought she would win. But when she was in the trenches running against former Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, Sarah Palin anointed Buerkle a “mama grizzly.” Helped by Tea Party activists, Buerkle somehow overcame David and Goliath odds (Maffei outraised her $2.7 million to $552,000) and won on Nov. 2.

Everyone knows the 87 freshmen Republicans elected to the House in a wave of Tea Party energy are looking for a fight on spending cuts.

As the CR was being written, the group angrily blew up discussions and forced much deeper cuts. On the floor, they helped defeat a duplicate fighter jet engine backed by none other than House Speaker John Boehner.

But while one might expect the ideological fervor of the Tea Party would come mostly from lawmakers representing solidly red districts, GOP insiders say a contingent of blue staters are some of the most feisty combatants in backroom meetings.

Call them the midterm mustangs, unbroken by the party structure.

Rep. Allen West, whose Florida beachfront district also went for Obama, Kerry and Gore, is another member of the group. Like Buerkle, the NRCC gave West $85,000.

Despite his deep blue district, he gave the keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and told the Weekly Standard in 2009: “There are three words I hate to hear used. I hate ‘big tent.’ I hate ‘inclusiveness.’ And I hate ‘outreach.’ I think you stand on the principles that make you great, which transcend everybody in America, and people will come to it.”

  • Timely Renewed

    We all encourage these brave Representatives in their fight to make the Republican House truly fiscally conservative. However, in the end this is a retail solution to a wholesale problem. We need to redress the underlying distortions of the Constitution which have allowed the federal government to expand far beyond its original constitutional powers, not nitpick at separate individual usurpations. We need to amend the Constitution to restore the original constitutional structure which limited the federal government’s ability to expand to such a ridiculous size and power.

    However, this is difficult to achieve when Congress holds a monopoly on initiating constitutional amendments. The first step is an “amendment amendment” which gives the States the ability to initiate constitutional amendments without a convention. This will allow grassroots constitutionalists to press a program of amendments carefully drafted to achieve the restoration of the original constitutional structure. Only this will permanently constrain federal overreach of the sort rejected by the people last November. See http://www.timelyrenewed.com

  • yJ2lQAdR

    Lieutenant Colonel West, United States Army, spends his adult life defending the United States & The Constitution! Your thinking the GOP leadership can break him is wrong thinking. Colonel West stands head and shoulders above almost all others in Congress.

    Colonel West is a moral, ethical, principled man who can neither be bought, threatened or coerced into going along for his own personal gain or benefit.
    I know this is hard and for some impossible to understand.

    We are grateful & honored to have this highly decorated & humble man representing us in the pit of snakes called the United States Congress.

    Thank you Colonel West for your continued honorable service to this nation.

    “I sleep while warriors stand guard”.

    • virginiagentleman


  • margarethoddery

    Government must be downsized, and special interests must not be allowed to gain extra favor or benefits. We are in a terrible recession, getting better, but I fear the mideast troubles and higher oil will erode the recovery.

  • StopGovtBondage

    Let’s hope this Freshman group turns Congress upside down. Our politicians have come very close to bringing down America – we need a change – and we need it now.

    Leadership – courage – truth – values – US Constitution – never forget that we the people are the Boss!

  • Pingback: TUESDAY TURBULENCE « Witch's Will

  • crich
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jasmine-Clark/1785223171 Jasmine Clark

    speaking of allen west… you all have to see this video of him talking to a CAIR representative!! http://www.therightscoop.com/allen-west-to-cair-rep-dont-try-and-blow-sunshine-up-my-butt it’s soooooo good!!!!