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Republicans, Democrats discuss questions of ideological purity in candidates

January 29, 2010

Lost in the shuffle of post SOTU coverage were a couple of stories indicating that both parties are stuggling with questions of ideological purity.

Republicans this week are debating whether to force candidates to adhere to a series of ideological positions or face a cutoff of funds.  The New York Times reported leaders arrived at a compromise on the issue that would require party leaders to consider a Republican candidate’s adherence to conservative positions. 

The party chairman, Michael Steele, came out strongly against the resolution, as did state party chairs. Mr. Steele called it a “litmus test” and said it would greatly complicate the party’s effort to recruit candidate and damage the party’s reputation nationally.

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO leaders meeting in Washington expressed deep dissatisfaction with a number of Democratic senators including Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska “who have held up and helped delay not only the passage of the health care bill but all kinds of other things that would help middle class workers.”

Congress Daily reported that union leaders are considering backing primary challenges to senators who are cool to their agenda:

Whether or not some unions end up adopting the primary election tactic against their perceived foes in the Democratic Party, organized labor is facing a difficult midterm election season in terms of motivating its members to go to the polls to back their friends. Some labor operatives and their allies fear a repeat of the 1994 midterm elections, when union turnout tumbled–a decline the operatives attribute to rank-and-file members’ disappointment over Democrats’ failure to enact health care reform and President Clinton’s full-court press for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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