Reprinted from NewsMax.com
ConservativeStrategists See Silver Lining in NewCongress
Kenneth R. Timmerman,NewsMax.com
Thursday, Nov. 9,2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While Democrats picked up 26 House seats inTuesday's election, giving them a narrow majority, the next Congresscould actually be more conservative than the outgoing one, Republicanstrategists tell Newsmax.
The rout of Republicans was a repudiation of the Party andespecially of president and the war in Iraq, "but not ofconservatism," these strategists believe. They cited incomingDemocrats who were far to the right of Nancy Pelosi and the currentDemocratic Party leadership, in addition to new, more conservativeRepublican Members.
In Arizona's fifth district, for example, Republican J.D.Hayworth, who made border security his signature issue, lost to aDemocrat who attacked him for not being tough enough on bordersecurity.
"We need members of Congress who are willing to enforce thelaw, produce real immigration reform, and stop playing politics withthe issue," Democrat Harry Mitchell wrote in a June 2006 oped.Mitchell said he opposed amnesty for illegal aliens and supported ahigh-tech border fence.
Nineteen of the House seats Republicans lost went to theDemocrats by fewer than 5,000 votes; four seats were lost by marginsof just 1,000 votes.
But conservative Republicans lost just three net seats, andwill actually become "the majority of the minority" in the nextCongress, said Mike Bober, Executive Director of the HouseConservatives Fund, a political action committee supported by theconservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).
The RSC expects to have more than one hundred members in thenext Congress out of the total 196 Republicans, making it far andaway the most powerful political caucus in the next Congress.
Nine candidates endorsed by the House Conservatives Fund wonopen seats in Tuesday's elections.
Minn. 6: Michelle Bachmann, who many conservatives see as arising star;
Fla. 13: Vern Buchanan, who won the seat vacated by failed U.S.Senate candidate Katherine Harris;
Tenn. 1: David Davis, who campaigned proudly as a conservative.(His campaign website is "rightforcongress.com.") Davis bested fourconservative independents in addition to his Democrat opponent, RickTrent.
Ohio-4: Jim Jordan, a former state legislator who openlycampaigned on conservative values in a state where Republicans had somany problems.
Colo.-5: Doug Lamborn, a state legislator who won the vacantJoel Hefley seat.
Ill.-6: Personal injury lawyer and former state legislator PeteRoskam achieved a "big win" by keeping outgoing House Foreign Affairscommittee chairman Henry Hyde's seat in the Republican column.
Idaho-1: Bill Sali, known as a "firebrand," who is ready todive right into the partisan battles in Washington.
Neb.-3: Adrian Smith, who ran as a "homegrown conservative"after his predecessor Tom Osborne stepped aside to make a failed runfor Governor.
Mich.-7: Tim Walberg, who beat liberal Republican Joe Schwartzin a hotly contested primary, and won on Tuesday with support fromthe free-market Club for Growth.
Several of these nine candidates won in competitive districtsthat don't normally elect conservatives.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence praised them forproviding "bright hope for conservatives& amidst thedisappointing news of a majority lost." They were elected "to fulfillthe hopes of millions of Americans who cherish limited government,fiscal discipline and traditional moral values," Pence said.
Conservatives also welcomed the election of Mary Fallin,Oklahoma's lieutenant governor since 1995, who took the open seatvacated by Republican Ernest Istook (OK-5). She was the onlyconservative to hold onto a seat being vacated by an outgoing RSCmember, Bober said.
The Republican National Committee leadership and the WhiteHouse had been telling conservative activists for months that theRepublican Party could contain the damage done by public exasperationover the war in Iraq, and that most House seats would be decided onlocal issues.
"But localizing did not happen," Bober said.
Republican strategists have divided their losses into fourcategories: seats lost because Republicans were touched by scandal orotherwise "self-destructed;" seats lost because of the retirement ofa popular Member; seats that were competitive to begin with; andseats where candidates were "simply unprepared," and failed torecognize they would face a serious challenge this November.
But conservative values was not identified as a cause forTuesday's losses.
"Same sex marriage has been on the ballot in 28 states," onestrategist said, "and we won in 27 of those."
Constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a manand a woman passed this year by wide margins in seven out of eightstates (Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado,South Dakota, and Idaho).
Arizona was the only state that voted down a marriageamendment. But Republican strategists note that the language on theArizona ballot was so convoluted ("three double-negatives") that itleft many voters confused.
"Democrats went out and recruited candidates who sounded likeus," said Cleta Mitchell, an attorney with Foley & Lardner whoadvises the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They werepro-gun, pro life, and opposed runaway spending."
The conservatism of the incoming Democrat majority has got someliberals enraged, because it means impeachment hearings are lesslikely to be on the agenda of the next Congress.
Marshall Wittman, a former advisor to Senator John McCain whosupported John Kerry for president in 2004 and now advises theDemocratic Leadership Council, believes "the central reason that theDemocrats have achieved their major triumph is that they captured thecenter that was abandoned by the GOP."
Wittman pointed to the victory of Sen. Joe Lieberman as anindependent as key to revitalizing the Democratic Party.
Lieberman's victory was a "massive repudiation" of the Party'sdominant left wing, that should "send a powerful message to the '08wannabees that winning the affections of the activists does nottranslate into victory in the general election - even in a state asblue as Connecticut," Wittman said.
Conservative icon Paul Weyrich, who heads the Free CongressFoundation in Washington, cautioned Republicans about thinking theycan easily roll back Tuesday's losses in the 2008 elections. "TheDemocrats educate their people in the Breznev doctrine," he said."They believe they can hold their seats for life."