Intensity with GOP in next year's Senate races
It is a long piece that tries to point out a schism, but Gillespie is closer to being right. The passion is on the side of the more conservative voters. When is the last time you saw a passionate moderate. The very term is an oxymoron. The GOP would be wise to ride the wave of anger at the liberals, and the "moderate" candidates would be wise to adopt positions that appeal to those passions.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn sees opportunities in numerous states Barack Obama won last year and – despite his own unabashed conservatism – he's been pushing moderate candidates. It's a fairly standard tactic, but it has not sat well with many conservative activists.
Emboldened by a summer of Tea Party protests and anger-infused town halls, they're demanding purity, as they did in an upstate New York congressional race this month that exposed raw nerves and bitter fault lines in the GOP. Now, in Senate races from California to Florida, conservative activists are trying to defeat candidates backed by the Republican establishment.
"We have a serious schism within the party," said John Weaver, a GOP political consultant and Texan who has advised Sen. John McCain. "The voters within the party have to ultimately decide: Do we want to be a purist party that sits in the corner and loses on every issue?"
Ed Gillespie, a former Republican national chairman, sees parallels with 1992, when Dallas billionaire Ross Perot attracted legions of disenchanted voters – most of whom ended up in the Republican tent, eventually. Folks waving anti-Obama signs at Tea Party rallies have even more common cause with Republicans.
"I see a lot of wind at Republicans' backs. There is a lot of intensity," Gillespie said. "If you're someone who's concerned about higher taxes, growing spending, and you're looking at a choice between [a moderate Republican] ... and a liberal Democrat, you pretty much have a sense of where your vote is going to go."