GOP right cheers Michi­gan up­set

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Amy Fa­gan and Stephen Di­nan

Rep. Joe Sch­warz cam­paigned per­son­ally with Sen. John McCain and had the sup­port of Pres­i­dent Bush — but what the in­cum­bent didn’t have­wastheright po­si­tions on is­sues for acon­ser­va­tiveRepub­li­can dis­trict in Michi­gan.

His loss in the Aug. 8 pri­mary to con­ser­va­tive state law­maker Tim Wal­berg is be­in­gread­inWash­ing­ton as a mes­sage to other Repub­li­cans about the need to con­trol spend­ing and lis­ten to the con­ser­va­tive base on is­sues such as im­mi­gra­tion and abor­tion.

Al­though the de­feat of Sen. Joe Lieber­man in Con­necti­cut’s Demo­cratic pri­mary has gar­nered the most at­ten­tion, Mr.Sch­warz’s loss in­di­cates that Repub­li­can vot­ers may be just as rest­less.

“Repub­li­cans the same day learned, ‘Don’t spend too much money. It’s not good for your po­lit­i­cal health,’ “ said Grover Norquist, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­cans for Tax Re­form. He said Repub­li­can pol­i­tics has en­tered a new chap­ter in which a law­maker’s votes on spend­ing will be­much­more­closelyscru­ti­nizedby vot­ers.

Mr. Sch­warz signed the group’s pledgenot to raise taxes in 2004,and Mr. Norquist said he did vote for tax cuts. ButMr.Norquist said, “There’s ahigh­er­stan­dard­now:Whatareyou do­ing to cut spend­ing?”

Other Repub­li­cans saw Mr. Sch­warz’s po­si­tion on im­mi­gra­tion — he tied him­self to Mr. McCain’s plan for guest­work­er­san­drepeated Mr.Bush’sdec­la­ra­tion that the­coun­try can­not de­port an es­ti­mated 12 mil­lion il­le­gal aliens — hurt him.

“McCain and Bush are presently not­thebest al­lies for apri­mary,”one Repub­li­canaideonCapi­tol Hill said. “When im­mi­gra­tion is the party’s No. 1 pri­mary is­sue, why sur­round your­self with the party’s two least cred­i­ble sources on the is­sue?”

Mr.Wal­berg­won53per­cent to 47 per­cent to oust Mr. Sch­warz, who was first elected in 2004.

“Tim­ra­non lim­it­ing gov­ern­ment spend­ing, re­duc­ing taxes, defin­ing tra­di­tional mar­riage, stand­ing up for the cul­ture of life,” said Joe Wicks, Mr. Wal­berg’s cam­paign man­ager.“Thosew­eretheeco­nomic is­sues that is the base, the key of the Repub­li­can Party.”

The con­ser­va­tive group Club for Growth also played a key role in the race. The group and its sup­port­ers spent more than $1 mil­lion pro­mot­ing Mr. Wal­berg as a true fis­cal con­ser­va­tive­an­dat­tack­ingMr.Sch­warz as a big gov­ern­ment, waste­ful­spend­ing, lib­eral Repub­li­can.

Pat Toomey, the group’s pres­i­dent, said Mr. Sch­warz’s loss shows there’s a strong anti-spend­ing sen­ti­ment among Repub­li­cans.

“It’s the­strongestmes­sage­so­far” on the need to cut spend­ing, Mr. Toomey said. “It shows that vot­ers are very at­tuned to this is­sue.”

Bill Rustem, pres­i­dent of Pub­lic Sec­tor Con­sul­tants, a non­par­ti­san pub­lic pol­icy think tank in Lans­ing, Mich., said the loss is less a mat­ter of is­sues than of sim­ple math.

In 2004, Mr. Sch­warz was the most lib­eral can­di­date in a race that fea­tured sev­eral con­ser­va­tives, who split the base vote. This time, Mr. Wal­berg was the only al­ter­na­tive to Mr.Sch­warz, giv­ing con­ser­va­tives a clear choice, Mr. Rustem said.

Mr. Toomey, though, said that ar­gu­ment doesn’t min­i­mize the sig­nif­i­cance be­cause this was the first time that a Repub­li­can in­cum­bent had lost in what he called an ide­o­log­i­cal-based pri­mary — one in which there were no re­dis­trict­ing con­flicts or other ex­ter­nal fac­tors — since 1994.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Em­brac­ing Sen. John McCain and Pres­i­dent Bush ap­peared to have back­fired for Rep. Joe Sch­warz, Michi­gan Repub­li­can, seen here with sup­port­ers Norman and Ta­leyah Nor­wood be­fore his pri­mary loss.

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