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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Third Party?

How about the Northeast Republicans breaking away from the Texas, err, National GOP? Here is a good article about the freshman Senator from New Hampshire not being in lock step with the Bush Admin.
''I was stunned, to say the least. He's always had a 100 percent voting record on our score card. Maybe he was putting his finger up in the air, looking to see what the polls said," said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America. Gary Bauer, president of the group American Values, which opposes abortion and gay marriage, called Sununu's vote ''clearly the most disappointing vote today in the US Senate." Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said Sununu and others caved to ''intimidation by the homosexual community."

Sununu shrugged off the criticism, saying his vote on gay marriage -- like other positions he has taken against the Republican leadership -- was about affirming genuine conservative values.

''I try to make decisions based on the principles in which I believe, the principles I campaigned on, spoke about in office," Sununu said in an interview. The gay marriage ban, Sununu said, was a clear issue of states rights. While he said he opposes gay marriage, the federal government has no business dictating rules on an issue that has traditionally been left to the states, he explained.

The bookish, bespectacled Sununu, who has been in the Senate for less than two years, is fast developing a reputation as a quiet but determined conservative, unafraid to deprive his party and his president of his vote if legislation does not meet his goals of fiscal responsibility and limited government.

Last year, the 39-year-old New Hampshire lawmaker voted against an energy bill favored by the White House as well as the Medicare prescription drug bill. The Medicare bill ultimately passed, but Sununu's key opposition to the energy legislation is one reason the measure is foundering on Capitol Hill.

The Medicare bill was opposed by many Democrats who thought it provided less-than-generous benefits and undermined the universal nature of the Great Society program; Sununu did not like it because it did not have the cost controls he thinks are needed to keep spending in line.

The energy bill, too, he said, is overloaded with corporate tax incentives and subsidies the senator says are unaffordable and unnecessary to encourage energy production. Sununu was also unhappy with provisions that protected companies from liability for manufacturing methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a gasoline additive that has polluted ground water in New Hampshire and other states.

Such votes have been a source of frustration for the Republican leadership and the White House, which are accustomed to losing votes to Republican moderates and mavericks such as Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Arizona's John McCain. But rare is the rebellion from a conservative like Sununu, especially since the senator's father was chief of staff to the president's father, George H. W. Bush.

The younger Sununu said he is being faithful to both the party and to his state. ''The core values I see in the Republican Party are a commitment to limited government, lower taxes, local control, personal freedom, property rights, and a limited regulatory environment," Sununu said.

While I seriously doubt that Sununu, Chafee, Snow, Collins, or any others would leave the GOP, there seems to be enough independent New England Republicans to make a huge impact if they desired.

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