Republicans, Democrats waging internal fights before 2010 elections

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramNovember 30, 2009 

Republicans and Democrats have their prey in sight as they target races to contest in the 2010 elections.

But for now, the focus of many is not on members of the other party.

It's on officeholders within their own party — whether Republican or Democrat — who they say have strayed from the party base on hot-button issues, raising questions about their loyalties.

"Both parties in the last 25 to 30 years included liberals, moderates and conservatives," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "But both are moving away from the diversity. Members of the party who don’t fit the stereotypes are being driven out.

"This is creating conflict for conflict’s sake. It’s a result of moving toward ideological purity in both parties."

For the GOP, this search for political purity is about weeding out "Republicans In Name Only," or RINOs, in next year's primary. For Democrats, it's about driving out party members who don't support the health care overhaul legislation in Congress.

One example is the Texas governor's race; some say the GOP primary, pitting conservative Gov. Rick Perry and moderate U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, will be a bellwether indicating how "pure" Texas Republicans want their governor to be.

But the purity battles stretch from Congress to the state legislature to local offices.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco — a moderate who has held his House seat for years, despite a Republican-led redrawing of his district — may be targeted by his own party because he didn't support the health care overhaul.

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