It’s not just wishy-washy Gumby Republicans who need to beware this upcoming election cycle. Even Republicans with generally conservative voting records — but who have otherwise been AWOL on the front lines of the battlefield — have political targets on their backs.
Let’s start nationally. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, with an overall conservative voting record over a very long career, has drawn a credible conservative primary challenger — not just a gadfly plunking down the filing fee. McConnell is believed to be in real trouble.
In Wyoming, Sen. Mike Enzi — author of the proposed Internet tax bill but otherwise a pretty solid conservative — is being challenged by conservative Liz Cheney, the former VP’s daughter.
In South Carolina, moderate Sen. Lindsey Graham — Sen. John McCain’s “mini-me” — is being challenged from the right by the daughter of a retired brigadier general and the first woman to graduate from the Citadel military college.
And more hot primary races are certainly coming, including for a number of congressional seats.
Here in Nevada, state Sen. Mark Hutchison — who chalked up a pretty bad voting record on tax hikes and other issues in his first legislative session this year — is likely to draw a conservative challenge from former Senate “Non”-Taxation Committee Chairwoman Sue Lowden in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor.
State Senate Minority Leader “Moderate Mike” Roberson of Las Vegas — who reversed himself and stomped on his Taxpayer Protection Pledge this year by backing over $1.2 billion (!) worth of tax hikes — has drawn a primary challenge from a leader of the Ron Paul movement.
If anyone can unite the warring conservative clans in Las Vegas it could be in this race, where Roberson is pretty much universally despised by every conservative of every stripe.
State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer — the “Reno RINO” — is almost certainly going to draw a primary opponent. He might even draw a challenge from conservative Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, who defeated a moderate Republican incumbent in a primary last cycle to win his Assembly seat.
In the lower house, Republican Assemblyman Lynn Stewart of Las Vegas — who possesses a voting record over the past several sessions that only a Democrat could love — has already drawn a credible primary challenge from another leader of the Ron Paul movement.
Assemblyman Paul Anderson of Las Vegas and Assemblyman Randy Kirner of Reno also are facing primary challenges, and conservative candidates are being recruited to run against Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury and even Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.
Such Republican-on-Republican political violence over the soul of the GOP is much-needed and long-overdue in Nevada. As Clemenza so artfully put it in The Godfather, “These things gotta happen every five years or so, 10 years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood.”
Let the bloodletting begin!
Chuck Muth is the president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots advocacy organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.