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Justin Amash
Establishment Republicans are finding Rep. Justin Amash hard to take.
But beating him in the primary won't likely be easy.
Some tea party insurgents are running into trouble from the Republican establishment they beat up so badly in several congressional districts in the past two election seasons, writes Philip Rucker:
Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.

But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way—by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district.

Even having the Chamber of Commerce against him doesn't, however, mean that Amash is cruising for a bruising come November. First of all, the establishment doesn't yet have that primary candidate. And second, Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney in this district, an indication of the hold tea party extremists have on the minds of voters there.

Amash isn't, however, isn't incumbent who faces some head-shaking on his home turf. And in some places, the establishment Republican has a good chance of getting GOP business-as-usual restored.

Read more about GOP establishment v. tea party primary fights below the fold.

Kerry Bentivolio, the reindeer rancher and tea partier known in some quarters as the "accidental Republican" after incumbent Thaddeus McCotter's reelection to Michigan's 11th congressional district in the Detroit suburbs fell apart in 2012, looks to be in serious trouble based on how much money he's raised. And he has a serious primary foe, business David Trott. But the Trott campaign has gone to some pains to point out that he's not going after Bentivolio out of antipathy to the tea party.

Some GOP establishment primary opposition has also arisen to tea partier Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee's 4th CD and Walter Jones of North Carolina's 3rd CD (even though the 11-term one-time Democrat isn't a tea partier).

Vin Weber, a long-time conservative firebrand who worked to create the Republican revolution that took Congress by storm in 1994 and an early participant in the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, has the alchemy of tea party politics now occasionally seems like a moderate (relatively speaking), told Rucker:

“It’s a new dynamic, and we don’t know how far it’s going to go. [...] All the energy in the Republican Party the last few years has come from the tea party. The notion that there might be some energy from the radical center, the people whose positions in the conservative mainstream are more center-right but who are just furious about the dysfunctionality of government—that’s different.”
Democrats can revel in this internal battling. But turning tea party-controlled districts back over to establishment Republicans in the Reagan mold is a far cry from the needed change that produces a progressive majority. We have some battles to win in our own party to make that happen.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And of course, they start by targeting the guy (10+ / 0-)

    who put his name on the anti-NSA surveillance bill.

    Bet you a snifter of good Beltway whiskey that this is a top-down form of payback. No way local Republicans do anything without the OK from the RNC.

    Not that I'm saying I'm into Amash, but one could ask oneself:  why not Ryan? why not Cruz? There's near a hundred Teabaggers who are causing this dust-up, and the first one to get targeted is the guy who sided with Democrats on a civil liberties bill.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:43:18 PM PDT

    •  Because Amash is an insane extremist, that's why. (16+ / 0-)

      A wrecked clock is right twice a day, but that doesn't mean you have to buy it.

      "It always irks when rightwing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context." Russell Brand

      by CoExistNow on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:46:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're talking about the point of view of MI (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dopper0189

        Republicans, and you think that Amash being an insane extremist is the problem for them?

        These are the people that have wrecked Detroit.

        I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:50:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of industry, government contracts, (0+ / 0-)

          etc are located in Amash's district.

          He's costing them money, and that is the problem. They could give a fuck about civil liberties, it's money.

          "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

          by MichiganGirl on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:14:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, let's just replace him with a neocon (0+ / 0-)

            corporatist. That'll fix it. No more Tea Party extremists!

            I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 08:04:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A neocon corporatist will not (0+ / 0-)

              risk default. This is a reckless, petulant child who has never worked a day in his life. He is holding his breath and turning blue and cares not a whiff if the world economy crumbles around him because he has inherited billions. He represents no one but himself. A corporatist would care about economic collapse.

              And I don't know that Christian Endtimes sh*t isn't also at play here with Amash. He's a fundie.

              So, yes, I will take a neocon corporatist any day of the week and twice on Sunday over this spoiled, petulant, Know-Nothing idealogue who cares for his immediate family and no one else.

              "It always irks when rightwing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context." Russell Brand

              by CoExistNow on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 05:01:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  And replace him with what? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody, SouthernLiberalinMD

        a toady of Wall Street?  I know we're all supposed to be pro-establishment in  every choice these days, we call it "pragmatism", but it is precisely the political and economic establishment that has looted this country for the last 40 years, not the marginalized of either left or right.

        Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper!

        by ActivistGuy on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:31:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  someone like his predecessors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CoExistNow

          I have a lot of respect for both Vern Ehlers and Paul Henry, though some of my respect for Ehlers came after he was replaced by Amash. Ehlers is a Ph.D. physicist who believes in science; he's one of the few politicians I've heard say that the only real solution to global warming is to decrease our consumption. So it's crazy to me that he is still a Republican, though many of Amash's supporters have been calling him a RINO.

          •  I have respect for Ehlers too, but do you (0+ / 0-)

            really think that one of the near-extinct moderate Republicans is going to have a chance of winning anywhere?

            For one thing, unless they're an incumbent already, they're not going to get support from the RNC and related PACS--why should those guys support someone like Ehlers when they could support a neocon corporatist tool?

            I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 08:06:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  As If Ryan & Cruz Are NOT Insane Extremists nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SouthernLiberalinMD, Eddie L

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

        by stevemb on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:44:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  the establishment has hated him from day one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MI Sooner

      And this time I mean that in a good way.  As CoExistNow noted, they have seen him as an insane extremist from day one. Not that I feel sorry for the establishment, as they enabled his election, but a primary challenge has been planned for Amash since the day he won the primary for this seat. He's one of the reasons the government is shut down and we're in danger of default; that's not good for business. No, I believe the Republicans on this one.

  •  as the tea bag swings... (13+ / 0-)
    Democrats can revel in this internal battling. But turning tea party-controlled districts back over to establishment Republicans in the Reagan mold is a far cry from the needed change that produces a progressive majority. We have some battles to win in our own party to make that happen.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:45:43 PM PDT

  •  As long as they destroy each other, no problem (9+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:01:13 PM PDT

  •  I would love (4+ / 0-)

    To see these Tea Party members lose in primaries to more moderate members of the Republicon Party.  Although it wouldn't be my real choice of us defeating all of them and taking back control of the House, it would be better to have Republicons in Congress that we can at least talk to and have common sense, unlike those from the Tea Party.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn.

    by Rosalie907 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:03:40 PM PDT

    •  I suspect the TP may become a real grassroots crew (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MI Sooner, Faito, Eddie L

      Money may move away from them but at least for 2014 they will be beloved by many. We may still have many of them on the ballot as I don't suspect that the rank and file Republican voters will go out of their way in a midterm election to support RINOs. In fact to many, these guys are heroes and when the Republican national party office tries to shut of them down it might stir up the hive something fearsome.

      You can't undo 30 years of intensive brainwashing in an election cycle or two. And that's why we need to be there to stop them in force this time. Conservative crazies, for all their faults, have been well trained to show up and vote for midterms.

  •  Great to read about Amash. (12+ / 0-)

    He represents my district and I hardly dare hope we could get a Democratic rep.

    The one hope I see is the number of people who would be Democrats, but do not normally vote, who are enraged and scared by the actions of the tea party. I am doing my best to get them to vote.

    My mother was Dutch and religious, but so different from most of the Dutch around here, which is rich and judgmental and conservative. She would not vote for anyone with a Dutch name.

    I write to Amash regularly, but I doubt he cares what I have to say.

  •  Your final paragraph makes the most important (12+ / 0-)

    point: Progressives and Democrats can't just sit back and snack on popcorn while we watch the Tea Partiers and Reaganites snack on each other.  

    We have a fairly good presence and message at the national level. No worries. We need to put a HUGE investment into recruiting folks for local government positions, however.  Some of those positions don't require party affiliation or very likely may be volunteer positions. They are thankless and ubiquitous, but they are the equivalent of a "farm team" for the Major Leagues in baseball.  

    If more Progressives would run for and fill those local positions, it would also prove to communities and citizens that Progressives are more than just a scary "librul" message. They are the people you see on the school board reviewing science textbooks when you need to adopt a school curriculum. They are the people you see on the town council protecting local stores when Walmart wants a tax break to build a new Superstore. They are the people on the land use commission protecting the drinking water from the new developer. They would see how their daily lives and Progressivism are on the same track.  

    It's thankless work, but if we abdicate the local arena to the Tea Party, we will still lose this battle no matter how much infighting the Republicans do.      

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:31:06 PM PDT

    •  Yes, and we need to make that case to the DCCC (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koosah

      And to the DSCC and to OFA. They'll be all hepped up to run some safe blue dogs in there and that's a losing strategy. We need progressives (or at least solid moderates in the reddest of places) to offer a different argument to their statu quo. If people are not exposed for months to a different set of ideas, which expands their definitions of freedom and liberty, you won't be able to deflate the neoconservative bubble of unreality.

      Normal people in those districts may really be ready for a change this time and listen with fresh ears. Even if it takes a handful of races to get the message through if you don't invest in a different message they will never be challenged enough to consider anything else.

  •  This is it.. (4+ / 0-)
    Democrats can revel in this internal battling. But turning tea party-controlled districts back over to establishment Republicans in the Reagan mold is a far cry from the needed change that produces a progressive majority. We have some battles to win in our own party to make that happen.
    Yes we do.
    And even as the teaparty in many respects is a mere pretend foil that the establishment or Reagan republicans use to boost their "responsible congressperson creds" (as is happening lately not because of policy disagreements so much but because of public backlash - imo), the republicans are almost all on board with what the teaparty has and is doing (see actual voting record) yet pretend that they are substantively different - they're not.

    The establishment republicans seek to preserve what  $ donors have established -  absolute charge without anyone challenging the hiearchal system as the've always been in the past

    So I'm kind of hoping that we Progressives can control the Dems party with as much force as the teabaggers have done even if it means we are also used by the "moderates" (sometimes corp-Dems is more like it or blue dogs, third way etc.) as a punching bag.

    Punching bag or not; we're used to being in that role so it doesn't matter.

    If Progressives begin really calling the shots in the Democratic party without the party suffering on a national scale - very very good outcomes could be expected

     

  •  "Radical center"? WTF? n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrindtheHills, koosah, Eric Nelson

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 06:41:13 PM PDT

  •  So..He's in trouble but he's not (0+ / 0-)

    Nice post.

    ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

    by tommy2tone on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 06:43:10 PM PDT

  •  There is no such thing as being a little bit TP (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, koosah, Eric Nelson, Faito, Woody

    same as pregnancy.

  •  My message to my Repug congressman. (4+ / 0-)

    Sir

    Please support an unencumbered CR. You will win sequester-level budget cuts. You will not defund or defeat the ACA. Govern the country, sir.

    As former Colorado Treasurer, you fully understand the dire consequences of default. By all means, support an unencumbered debt ceiling increase immediately. Should my stock investments suffer as a result of your intransigent Tea-Party driven and Cruz-worshipping ideology, I will provide a large contribution to your future Democratic opponent. Govern the country, sir

  •  Amash will still have DeVos money (5+ / 0-)

    And Amway has billions. It's going to take more than money to defeat him. However, all of the sane conservatives aren't happy with what the Tea Party is burning down.

  •  The most important thing this country... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notreadytobenice

    can do is dispatch the tea party, and the quickest way to do that may be for the business community to toss aside these nut jobs from within the GOP.  (At minimum, let them beat each other to a pulp in the primary, and we'll take on the bloodied winner in the general.)  Forget everything you've seen since 2009; big business has no tolerance for these guys' antics anymore, and the unholy alliance between business and rightist populism is ending fast.

  •  I think Jim Tracy will beat DesJarlais fairly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    easily in TN-04, and he will be marginally better, but only marginally. The worst thing is I think Eric Stewart, if he decides to run again, would probably do better against DesJarlais than against Tracy. But it would be a hard pull for a Democrat to win here next year. We are apparently stupid down here in TN-04.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:34:51 PM PDT

  •  Still very good news, IMO. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody
    Democrats can revel in this internal battling. But turning tea party-controlled districts back over to establishment Republicans in the Reagan mold is a far cry from the needed change that produces a progressive majority. We have some battles to win in our own party to make that happen.
    Granted, but the establishment candidates may at least be rational and practicality-minded, with an eye on what can realistically be accomplished with some old-fashioned wheeling and dealing and give and take (people often decry it, but the fact is our government is built on compromises), as opposed to take-no-prisoners ideologues who would sooner burn the country to the ground than compromise with "the other guys".

    Yeah, a Democrat would be preferable, but if it's a choice between a wild-eyed Tea Partier or a cold-eyed but rational businessperson, I'll take the latter anyday.

  •  To clarify MB, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    Michigan has open primaries... There were no hot Democratic primaries in 2012, so Dems had some fun.

    It's sort of a Michigan tradition to fuck with the other party's primaries when you don't have one going on in your own party.

    Santorum was decided to be the worst possible candidate in the repub party by the local Dems... So yes, he got WAY more votes than anyone ever suspected he'd get in MI, but a lot of those votes were Dems having fun, because we could.

    I voted for Santorum myself that year, because why not? There literally were no contested Dem primaries so I decided why not saddle them with ole' frothy?

    "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

    by MichiganGirl on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:22:04 PM PDT

    •  And it was a nice chance to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganGirl

      ... voting against Romney was a nice chance to embarrass the frontrunner in ... his father's ... home state and to keep the costly and divisive primary battles going. I'd probably have voted the same way.

      But wonder what will be the fun thing to do in this House district if this primary comes to pass? The Democrats would want a strong candidate just in case the Repub primary leaves their winner weakened and many supporters embittered. But which Repub would Democrats want to go up against in the November election? Hmmmn.

      •  I always vote in contested Dem primaries... (0+ / 0-)

        but when there isn't a contested Dem primary, what not have some fun?

        "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

        by MichiganGirl on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:22:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Turning the tables on the Tea Party isn't going to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    be easy.

    I'm afraid that we are going to have to live with the effect of the gerrymandering that the Republicans/Tea Party did after the 2010 census. I live in North Carolina, and they did an outstanding job of carving up the state. There are very few pink or purple districts, and a serious minority of blue districts . . . Don't expect it's much different anywhere else.

    It's really sad because I know some serious Republicans who are fiscal conservatives and have some really creative ideas about how to solve the problem so that everyone gets most of what they want. They have some (as far as I am concerned) absolutely valid concerns that, frankly, I share, but we all see a way to address almost all of the problems that we're facing. Problem is that they are less than 30% of the Republicans in their districts.

    It's a real bummer, because there really are Republicans who care deeply about how things are going and who are deeply concerned about how the crazies have taken over the party . . .

    "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

    by lartwielder on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:08:32 PM PDT

    •  If we could dare to win the legislature (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lartwielder

      If and when we take over a few state legislatures, we need to
      1) conduct a mid-decade redistricting and ruthlessly re-gerrymander the state, not waiting until after the 2020 Census, (Tom DeLay showed how to do this down in Texas 10 years ago)
      and then,
      2) set up non-partisan methods to handle redistricting in the future.

      We will almost always do fine under a fair redistricting, but we need to show the Repubs that they need it too. Removing most of their incumbents mid-decade ought to do the trick.

  •  Argh. (0+ / 0-)

    No.  Just no.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:23:44 PM PDT

  •  I keep hoping if any sane republicans are left (0+ / 0-)

    That they will eventually jump out of the clown car and join the sane, responsible adults (well, some of them) on the other side...enough to swing the House.

    Republican threats amount to destroying the present if we don't allow them to destroy the future too. -MinistryOfTruth, 1/1/2013

    by sleipner on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:03:47 PM PDT

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