The state of the centrist Republican coalition is better than it has ever been before, according to former Rep. Tom Davis, President of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that represents moderate Republicans in Congress.
This year, the Republican Main Street Partnership’s membership has ballooned to its highest number ever. A preliminary number for its membership – which is still being worked out – now includes 45 congressmen and 4 senators, a gain of about a dozen members.
“[This is] probably not proportional to the gains in the Republican caucus, but certainly more absolute members.” said Davis. “The reason is that a lot of the Republican gains were in the south and the west, where it tends to be more socially, and conservatively, doctrinaire.”
However, Davis points out, centrist Republicans have been respected by party leadership and hold substantial clout in Congress.
The influence can be shown “when you take a look at who our people are: Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee [Rep. Dave Camp], Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee [Rep. Fred Upton] – we’re in influential positions,” said Davis.
“I think the Republican leadership has been great [in reaching out to GOP moderates]… Main Street-ers and moderates aren’t asking for control – we’re just asking to be part of the team.”
Further, Davis says, centrist Republicans and members of the Republican Main Street Partnership are crucial votes that determine the winners in Congress.
“There’s a difference between having Main Street Republicans in competitive districts that can appeal to swing voters, and just having Republicans in areas that [naturally] appeal to Republicans,” said Davis. “It’s the margin of victory – and it’s the difference between being able to pass things and not pass things.”
Of course, the fact that the Main Street Partnership did not increase in size proportional to the broader Republican caucus says something about the nature of Republican gains. But the Tea Party movement doesn’t discourage Davis – who said that governance would moderate their views.
“From a Republican perspective, [the tea party] is an important part of the coalition that they’re putting together. It’s a bit different from the ‘establishment’ coalition some of us have come out of… but governance is a tough business, and they get exposed to that pretty quick,” said Davis.
The increase in the size of the Main Street Partnership should come as encouraging news for moderate Republicans – many of whom have been wondering whether others like them exist, given the tea party climate of the day.
“I want to emphasize – with all of the rhetoric about the tea party and everything else – that there [are Republicans] who have other issues that they’re concerned about as well. This is what coalitions are made of,” said Davis.
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