Ohio Republican Congressman Steven Latourette announced that he would not seek a tenth congressional term. A close friend of House Speaker Boehner, Latourette cited the political gridlock in Washington as cause for his decision. Latourette had already won his primary and was running unopposed in the general.
Congressman Latourette is just another in a long line of Republicans who have become disillusioned by the choke hold the conservative base has on the Republican Party. He joins a list of moderate House members who have resigned in frustration over Washington’s inability to get anything done; each in their own way blaming Republican intransigence as the root cause of gridlock.
The partisan stubbornness is not limited to the Republican controlled House. Republican Senator Olympia Snow of Maine has tendered her resignation citing partisan gridlock. Her frustration over Republican's use of the filabuster to block legislation is well documented. Several Republican Senators have said off the record they would gladly vote for a piece of legislation “that gave me 60% of what I wanted” but they are prohibited from compromising by their base.
So what happens if members defy the Tea Party led base? In Texas, an incumbent Republican congressman was lampooned in REPUBLICAN sponsored television ads for being a “moderate.” Latourette claimed he was being ostracized by party members and blocked from important committee assignments.
The Republican Party currently holds a miserable favorability rating of 36%; and recent polls show that that the electorate’s disapproval of Republican intransigence has spilled over onto their presidential candidate. Quinnipiac, CBS NEWS and the New York Times just released polls of likely voters in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. All show the President with a healthy lead:
PA: Obama 53% Romney 42%
OH: Obama 50% Romney 40%
FL: Obama 51% Romney 45%
Given the sputtering economy and high unemployment you would expect the President to be barely treading water. Yet he is polling strong in these key states.
There is no question that many of Romney’s difficulties are self inflicted. He is a poor political athlete. He is stiff and disconnected from 99% of the electorate. But he is also the presumptive leader of a party with a 36% approval rating. And these polls show that the negative feelings the electorate has toward the Republican Party are spilling over onto the candidate.
Mitt Romney needs all the help he can get. But the Republican Party is just dragging him down.