“Ted Cruz is a total nihilist, shutting down the government. That and Rand Paul’s isolationism appeal to the lowest common denominator, which would make us a permanent minority in terms of presidential races.”
That’s GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, in a phone interview with me today, commenting on Tea Partyer David Brat’s surprise primary win over Eric Cantor. King says his worry is that Brat’s victory will enable “the Ted Cruz and Rand Paul wing to take over the party,” which “could make us a stronger party in many Congressional districts but it will prevent us from being a national party.”
Still, King acknowledges that Cantor’s loss means House Republicans won’t act on reform this year, given how the defeat is being widely interpreted. And King suggests the broader failure to embrace reform, along with following the destructively uncompromising and confrontational path blazed by Cruz, could hurt the party in the long run.
“There is an opportunity right now — we have Democrats who are willing to agree to strict border controls,” King says. “We could get meaningful reform which could satisfy most Democrats and Republicans.” But sticking with a “hard-line position,” King adds, “could make it easier in primaries, but nationwide that doesn’t sell.”