National GOP Leaders to Expand Role in Congressional Primaries

Placing Blame for Recent GOP Losses

The change in the national Republican role in contested congressional primaries came about because of GOP concerns about two recent special elections for congress, in Louisiana 6 (Baton Rouge, etc.) and Mississippi 1 (Tupelo, etc.), as well as one in former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s district in Illinois. Former NRCC Chair Davis told The Hill newspaper that bad Republican candidates contributed to those defeats and that “a little adult supervision would have helped.”

It is questionable, however, whether the NRCC or the Republican Leadership could have changed the outcome of either Southern contest. In Mississippi, where GOP nominee Greg Davis was handicapped by geography — he was the mayor of Southaven, a suburb of Memphis on the Western edge of the district — his trump card in the primary was strong backing from former US Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), still a powerful figure among Magnolia State Republicans.

Similarly, in Louisiana, GOP nominee “Woody” Jenkins was perceived — probably correctly — as too rightwing, even for such a Deep South district. However, it is doubtful whether the conservative voters who dominated the district’s Republican Primary and have been fans of Jenkins for decades would have been dissuaded by “outsiders” taking up the cause of another candidate.

Southern Political Report
5/28/8