Republicans in the Northeast: Going, Going ...

The next time you take your family to visit the American Museum of Natural History, be sure to make time to see their collection of fossil remains of extinct creatures. These include the dodo bird, the Tasmanian tiger, the Caspian tiger ...  and the Northeast American Republican.

Laymen tend to think the mass extinctions surrounding the last ice age happened fairly rapidly, but some animals such as the short faced bear lingered on in small numbers for thousands of years. By comparison, the once robust herds of United States Republicans roaming the territories north of Virginia and east of Ohio have plummeted below the viable gene pool margin in less than a decade. Yes, I'm afraid that the African white rhino is now laughing at the pitiful numbers of the Grand Old Party RINOs in this region.

The recent departure of Arlen Specter for the greener fields of the Democratic supermajority drew a great deal of media attention, but it was only the latest trophy in the Northeast RINO hunt.  The process actually began, albeit quietly, back in 2002, but the trickle turned into a flash flood during the 2006 and 2008 cycles. As for Pennsylvania's neighbor to the north, the New York Republican delegation is now down to three members of Congress, less than any time in the modern era.  The pattern repeats across the region, but Republicans haven't always carried a poisonous aura with these voters.

New York had a Republican governor from 1995 until Eliot Spitzer's brief but colorful term began in 2007. In fact, the GOP provided 45% of the Empire State's governors since World War 2. In tiny but disproportionately influential New Hampshire, their Class III Senate seat has been held by Republicans since 1855, with the single term exceptions of Fred Brown and John Durkin. But even now, Judd Gregg is retiring from that post and astute observers see the Democrats stealing that position. His Class II counterpart's office was already nabbed from three decades of GOP ownership by Jeanne Shaheen during the last election.

Similarly, ten of the last 15 governors in Pennsylvania came from Republican ranks, as did several senators from the Keystone State in recent decades. So where did all of those Republicans go?

As with everything else in American politics, the particulars vary from one locale to another, but the current trend is difficult to ignore. Next door in New Jersey, Garden State residents chose Republicans for governor five out of six times from 1982 until 2002, at which point the Democrats took control. As a friend recently noted, Jersey is currently in the middle of a vicious partisan struggle between the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the really, really, really liberal wing of the Democratic Party.