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GOP punishing members who cross party lines
Rachel Oswald
Published: Tuesday February 24, 2009


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Determined to enforce the party line, the GOP has taken new steps to punish those members who have crossed the aisle in recent weeks to vote in support of the federal stimulus package and to send the message to any party moderates - turncoats will not be tolerated.

In a Monday interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said he was open to primary challenges to the three Republican senators who voted in favor of the federal stimulus package --Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania and the two senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Spector is up for re-election in 2010.

"My retribution is the retribution of the voters in their state. They're going to have to go through a primary in their state," Steele said, adding that the RNC would follow the lead of the state parties in choosing which Republicans to back with campaign money. "When the state party says we're going to endorse a candidate, the RNC is behind them. When the state party says we have a problem with them, so does the RNC."

Today the National Republican Congressional Committee will be unveiling its new campaign fundraising program for the 2010 elections. Called the "Patriot" program, the plan will among other things hold members accountable for their votes if they wish to recive any campaign aid, reports Roll Call's John McArdle.

Writes McArdle, "As one Republican source put it Monday, the effort is also designed to 'end the welfare state that the NRCC has become over the past six to eight years' by setting strict benchmarks for Members and adding one big stick to the process. Namely, those candidates who arenít working to help themselves will be cut off from NRCC financial assistance."

"We have very limited resources," said Mike Rogers, chairman of the NRCC's incumbent retention program, to Roll Call. ďItís not right to ask the whole Conference to help those who arenít willing to help themselves.Ē

Some state parties are already punishing members who have crossed the aisle in recent weeks. On Sunday, the California Republican Party voted to withhold party funding in the 2010 election from the six GOP state legislators who voted in favor of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's compromise budget last week. The budget included the largest tax increase in the state's history to balance a $42 billion shortfall.

"The measure was "approved swiftly and without debate Sunday as the party's twice-annual convention wrapped up in Sacramento. An earlier version of the measure contained stronger language, calling for a censure," writes the Associated Press. "Supporters said Sunday's resolution sends a strong message to politicians that there will be consequences for breaking their no-tax pledge."



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