You can add “moderate Republican” to your list of favorite oxymorons. In last Tuesday’s Republican primary, a concerted effort by conservative special interest groups successfully targeted GOP lawmakers who failed to toe the ideological line on issues ranging from right to work and RGGI to marriage equality.
House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who easily won his primary challenge, was the big winner of the night. Many of the defeated GOP House members had been adversaries. Kevin Landrigan detailed the carnage:
Several social and fiscal conservative groups on their own, and in some cases in concert with others, were going after either pro-labor or socially moderate House GOP incumbents.
These conservative groups included the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, Cornerstone Action, New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, New England Right to Work Campaign, National Organization for Marriage, New Hampshire Advantage Coalition and state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
O’Brien insisted he didn’t advise leaders of these groups on whom they should work to help elect or defeat in GOP primaries.
Victims of the purge included Reps. Peter Bolster (R-Alton), Julie Brown (R-Rochester), Russ Day, (R-Goffstown), Richard Dwinnell (R-Fitzwilliam), Karen Hutchinson (R-Londonderry), William Remick (R-Lancaster), Tony Soltani (R-Epsom) and David Welch (R-Kingston).
The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, a group closely aligned with the Free State Project, claimed 86% of their endorsed candidates won on Tuesday. At least three of the six Republican “turncoats” targeted by RLCNH lost.
The six incumbents misrepresented themselves as Republicans and actively worked against Republican “campaign rhetoric” when they got into office, explained RLCNH chair Carolyn McKinney. “The elimination of just one of these turncoats is a victory for the people of their district, the state as a whole and the Republican Party, and we’re elated we were able to defeat three of them.”