GOP 2014: Conservative Candidates, Moderate Tone

Today’s New York Times piece on Republican primary battles leads with Art Halvorson, the father of a former colleague who is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s heavily Republican 9th District.  His opponent is incumbent Rep. Bill Shuster, who holds the seat his father held before him.  While much of the article falls into the oversimplified “Tea-Party-Versus-Establishment” narrative, Halvorson rejects the opportunity to bang the drum on more red meat issues, favoring a more populist tone:

“People don’t remember a time before the Shusters,” Mr. Halvorson said. “They created an aristocracy, and people are so accustomed to that’s the way politics is done around here, they don’t see how he can be toppled. I’ve got to show leadership’s what’s important, not seniority, and longevity is not leadership.” … “That’s the narrative everybody wants to know: What’s the Republican Party going to look like after Ted Cruz Tea Party people get done with it?” Mr. Halvorson asked, eschewing the Tea Party label even as he adopts many of its campaign tropes. 

Tea Party themes – less government, more freedom, less concentration of power – are more popular than the Tea Party label.  Candidates like Halvorson are wise to make their campaigns about ideas, rather than shorthand.

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