Moderate Republican group letting in Democrats

The moderate Republican Main Street Partnership is dropping "Republican" from its name, Yahoo News reports. The group is now known as "The Main Street Partnership" and hopes to recruit centrist Democrats. 

The board voted Tuesday to make the change.

"The goal is to try and fill the void that is the middle," the group's new president, former Ohio congressman Steven LaTourette, told Yahoo. "The American political system is like a doughnut: You've got sides, but you don't have anything in the middle and it would be my goal to work with Republicans and Democrats who want to find the path forward to getting things done and compromise." 

In retiring earlier this year, LaTourette lamented the increasing polarization in the House of Representatives.

“I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground,” he said.

The group has formed a super PAC, Defending Main Street, to support moderate Republicans* in future elections. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has a super PAC that backs candidates in both parties.)

Members of the group include Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and John McCain (Ariz.) as well as several influential House members: Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.).

* LaTourette misspoke in saying that the super PAC would back moderates in both parties. It will only back Republicans, even though the group is opening up to Democrats.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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Anne Bartlett · January 8, 2013