Arch-conservative Jim DeMint’s visit highlights divisions among Bay Area Republicans [The Oakland Tribune]
|By Josh Richman, The Oakland Tribune|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
And they live in the belly of the beast.
About 500 of them let off some steam and thunderously applauded
But with Republicans who once represented Silicon Valley in
Moderate Republicans say having a polarizing figure like DeMint come preach to the choir doesn't help spread the gospel to a wider audience.
"The fight I'm going to pick is one that unites my friends and divides my enemies, not one that divides my friends and unites my enemies," said former
It used to be that "economic issues united Republicans in
Valley Republicans like Campbell,
The old pro-business
"That created the cleavage between the social conservative and the pro-business conservative, because now you could be a pro-business Democrat," Campbell said. "And that cleavage left the
Republican registration has plummeted in
Some archconservatives believe the
"They pissed me off," said Myers, 68, of
But locally, at least, strict ideological purity is a detriment to Republicans seeking nonpartisan local offices, for which no "R" or "D" appears next to a candidate's name.
"We finally have a crop of people who want to seek elected office who are mainstream Silicon Valley people who just happen to be registered as Republicans," said
In fact, he said, almost 100 Republicans now serve on Silicon Valley's city councils, school boards, special districts and so on -- about twice as many as when he took office in 2006.
Constant is fiscally conservative but pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage. "I'm not a right-winger by any stretch of the imagination," he said.
"As an elected Republican, it makes my job harder when you have these issues that push people to the extremes," he added.
The with-us-or-against-us tactics that DeMint and some local conservatives tout "are frankly stupid and completely misjudge the character of the American people," said Munger, 57, of
Major policies change when a party wins an election based on those issues, which Republicans didn't in 2012, he said. And while he fervently wants the new health law repealed, neither party "has the right to shut down the government over an issue like this -- the people did not give us a mandate to do this."
Still, many local Republicans agree that fiery rhetoric has its place.
"When the ship is going in a certain direction and it has a lot of momentum and you want to correct five degrees to the right, you point 90 degrees to the right," said tech venture-capital icon
But an all-or-nothing approach to governance "is not helpful to building coalitions" that can turn the tide, said Kvamme, 75, of
The challenge for mainstream Republicans isn't to silence someone like DeMint, "but to outshout him and convince voters that their party is not too extreme," said
Neither party will succeed without reaching beyond its base, he said, but that is not the goal of DeMint or those who cheer him on.
"His job is to energize the most conservative voices in the community," Schnur said. "It's someone else's job to figure out how to win elections."
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