Revenge of the NERPs
If everything -- or even most things -- swing the way Republicans would like on November 4th, the GOP stands to experience a minor expansion of their hold on the House and capture a razor-thin majority in the Senate. (If things go south in Kansas, said upper chamber lead could conceivably include Greg Orman, a man so devoted to conservative principles that he’s stated he will caucus with whichever party holds the majority leader’s chair.) If this scenario comes to pass, the Republican power base will once again be beholden, in part, to a group of renegade NERPs who tend to frustrate the conservative base at nearly every turn. They are hesitant to promote American exceptionalism abroad by force of arms and some of them tend towards rather weak-knee positions on gun rights. Nearly to a man -- or woman -- they aren’t the sort of folks you look to for a vote on most of the social issues. But what will the party do with them in the run-up to the next presidential election cycle?
The NERPs are used to being targets of disdain by movement conservatives. They don’t tend to attract money from national conservative groups and have had to find ways to develop their financing elsewhere. They don’t often receive choice committee assignments out of the gate and none of them expect to be taken seriously in terms of national office aspirations. (With apologies to Chris Christie, who seemingly can expect anything short of the moon and stars.) In short, they’ve been used to being on the short end of the stick from their party.
But the GOP will once again need them on the road to 2016. So, should they expect the usual round of calls for primaries against them in favor of True Conservatives? Or will they be part of the larger team this time? We have a bit less than 24 months to see if we learned any of the lessons from 2006.