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Moderate Republicans gaining (updated 10/24)

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Thanks to what some are calling the “Republican civil war”, the U.S. Congress has been unable to pass bills, including one allotting $105 billion for national defense, for three weeks.

Yet, it’s a good thing. The bravest of Republican moderates in the U.S. House have blocked Rep. Jim Jordan from becoming House Speaker.

The Republican majority in the House is so slim, it only takes four Republican votes to defeat a potential speaker. In three rounds of voting, Jordan’s opposition grew from 20 to 25 in spite of the threats Jordan and his supporters made. In the private Republican caucus vote following, 112 voted against Jordan.

We can hope the next step is for House Republicans to quit pandering to the extremists on the right and nominate a moderate that Democrats can support.

Democratic blogger Robert Reich has urged Republicans to work with Democrats to elect Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) as speaker. For three straight years Fitzpatrick has been the representative co-sponsoring the most bipartisan bills. He is co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and appears to be following its original concept (in spite of rumors of far-right funding).

A short-term solution being discussed would be for Republican and Democrat moderates to give acting speaker Patrick McHenry more power for 30 to 60 days. Democrats might support McHenry because he voted to certify votes for President Biden after the 2020 elections. Currently McHenry is not authorized to bring up bills, but only to hold an election for speaker.

What’s stopping moderate Republicans from acting is, perhaps, fear of Trump’s wrath and the volatility of the ex-president’s supporters. (Protecting one judge and his family from Trump supporters is costing $2,000,000.)

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) recently jump-started a moderate offensive in Idaho by throwing its support behind 34 Republican legislative candidates in the 2024 primaries. Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News has published–and commented–on the list.

To endorse candidates for nearly one-third of the legislature over four months before filing is unusual, if not unique. It gives many a boost in fundraising and advertises to others that IACI is looking for candidates to run against extremists.

Included are five candidates in Canyon County, four in Ada county and two, in districts 10 and 23, with voters in both counties.

Many Nampa residents will be happy to know that Jeff Agenbroad will be challenging Brian Lenney for the district 13 senate seat. Lenney rated 290 on the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) scale of 300. Agenbroad’s service in 2021 earned a 53 IFF rating.

Equally appealing is knowing that Tammy Nichols of district 10 (Middleton, Star, and north Nampa) will have a hard-fighting opponent, Simplot executive Lori Bishop. Nichols also scored 290 with the IFF.

IACI has also endorsed the incumbent Education Committee chairs, David Lent (Senate) and Julie Yamamoto (Caldwell) plus four other members of the House Education Committee. They managed to stop bills aimed at diverting public school funds to private or home schools.

IACI, the largest lobby in the Idaho statehouse, sees education of a competent workforce as an important goal.

As far as I can tell, 2023 is the first year that IACI has rated Idaho legislators and the results are interesting.

Democrats rated from 71 to 89; Republicans, from 33 to 100. The lack of unity in the Republican Party could not be clearer.

Historically, IACI has favored Republicans. The new standards, however, rate 42 Republicans lower than any Democrats, 21 in the same range; and only 17 better.

IACI’s goal of replacing low scoring Republicans with higher scoring ones, may not help Democrats win elections, but it will strengthen bipartisan cooperation.

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