Moderate Republican group dropping "Republican" from name

Part of a wider post-election splintering on the right, I think. There was a story last week about centrist establishment Republicans seeking to re-assert themselves in primaries to blunt the influence of tea partiers, followed shortly by a story about Bill Kristol maybe launching a new Republican version of the DLC to support “reformist” fiscal policies. Conservatives knocked down Boehner’s “Plan B” and then nearly succeeded at pushing him to a second ballot in the Speaker election; meanwhile, Chris Christie firmed up his blue-state Republican brand by grandstanding over the House GOP’s failure to vote on the Sandy relief bill. Just today, Glenn Beck announced that he’s re-launching The Blaze as a libertarian network that’ll act as an alternative to the “far right,” a point he illustrated with a screencap of former Fox News colleague Sean Hannity. Whole lotta maneuvering out there right now on our side.

Enter former GOP rep and noted Boehner ally Steve LaTourette, who’s going to show those “chuckleheads” in the tea party a thing or two by … embracing Democrats? Behold as the Republican Main Street Partnership becomes the Main Street Partnership:

The group’s new president, former Ohio Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette, told Yahoo News that he plans to begin conversations with Blue Dog Democrats and centrist groups in the coming months.

“The goal is to try and fill the void that is the middle,” LaTourette, who resigned from Congress this year, said. “The American political system is like a doughnut: You’ve got sides, but you don’t have anything in the middle, and it would be my goal to work with Republicans and Democrats who want to find the path forward to getting things done and compromise.”

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, LaTourette added: “While we have changed our name, we have not changed our values or our mission. We will continue to be a right of center organization and continue to represent the governing wing of the Republican Party.”

The Main Street Partnership will also expand its super PAC, Defending Main Street, to aid center-right members of both parties, LaTourette said, adding, “It’s not going to be focused so much on party as it is on protecting people from the right and left extremes if they choose to do the right things.”

Two questions. One: Why would a group that claims to represent the “governing wing of the Republican Party” want to protect centrist Democrats? Blue Dogs tend to come from reddish districts, which makes them the lowest-hanging fruit for the GOP. If you want to protect the Republicans’ ability to govern while making the House more moderate, stick to backing centrists in Republican and Democratic primaries. Two: Among the members of the Republican Main Street Partnership is new Republican Conference chair (and fellow Boehner ally) Cathy McMorris-Rogers. Ed Kilgore wonders how long she and other GOP congressmen will remain affiliated with the group once it ends up backing its first Democrat. Good question. It’s one thing to be linked to RINOs, it’s another to be linked to an org that’s bankrolling candidates who are running against the party. What Republican’s going to want to face primary voters bearing a “seal of approval” like that?

Exit question: Isn’t there already a squishy group out there that’s all about shedding labels?

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