Is There a Young, Rhody Reaganite?
Interesting observation from Jean Kaufman:
Traditionally, conservatives have distrusted Republicans from blue states. The usual path to election for a blue-state Republican has been the RINO road. It seemed to make sense, too, for candidates to think that the way to appeal to the Democrats and independents necessary to win an election in a blue state would be to position oneself only somewhat to the right of the left.
Ronald Reagan…presented himself as a conservative rather than a moderate, and yet was able to attract Democrats and moderates. Reagan appealed to voters in his state [California], and later very successfully at the national level, by being personally compelling while at the same time articulating his conservative beliefs in a clear and convincing manner. That combination was remarkably persuasive.
Reagan…had no immediate heirs. George H.W. Bush, his vice president, was personally and ideologically quite different. So it is not insignificant that the current crop of conservative leaders-in-the-making were children or young adults during the Reagan years. Unlike those who cut their political teeth before Reagan was president, they didn’t think moderation was necessary for success. They saw for themselves that it was possible to stick to conservative principles and yet remain a viable candidate in a state that was not fundamentally conservative, and then to succeed at the national level. In a metaphoric sense, they are Reagan’s children.
Chris Christie, Paul Ryan & Susana Martinez are few examples of conservatives from “blue” states who have succeeded politically. It’s still to be seen if they can translate that success on a national level, but here’s why Kaufman thinks they may have a chance:
A conservative who has managed to get elected in a blue state or district has a distinct advantage over others who have followed the more traditional red-state route to Republican prominence. In a more Darwinian struggle for political existence, only the most charismatic, nimble, and appealing minds and personalities among conservatives would be able to win, swimming against such a strong tide without sinking. This background is exactly what a conservative would seem to need in order to prevail on the national level in a country that features slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans, as well as a growing number of independents.