Two data points:
1. Del. Clarke Hogan unloaded on Del. Bob Marshall earlier this week, calling him “a piece of shit” after Marshall confronted Hogan for his refusal to support his commendation honoring a man who died while saving his son from drowning. Obviously the bill was just a chit—Hogan surely doesn’t actually oppose the bill. Marshall and Hogan have never been what you’d call buddies—there’s some significant ideological daylight between the two—but this would seem to mark a new low in their relationship. Maybe it’s just Hogan and Marshall, but even if that’s so, the problem is worsened by the two being on different sides of what may well turn into a civil war come the long hangover that will begin on November 4th.
2. House Speaker Bill Howell is losing the support of his caucus with his support of the restaurant smoking ban, Anita Kumar writes in the Post, in a vote that was really emblematic of the Republicans’ uncertainty about their future. Howell sees the handwriting on the wall, and knows that House Republicans have got to moderate if they’re to minimize their losses this November. There are some real differences between being a 30-member minority and a 45-member minority, especially given all of the talk about fairness and bipartisanship among House Democrats. Kumar writes:
Delegates say Howell has been trying gradually to make changes so Democrats will have fewer avenues of attack during the fall campaign. For example, the House is recording votes taken in subcommittee meetings, during which many bills are killed, and is offering live video of floor sessions — an attempt to eliminate the Democrats’ criticism about transparency.
According to delegates who attended the recent caucus meeting on the smoking ban, Howell told them that he was opposed to the prohibition but would back the ban because of the looming elections.
Howell is right. Democratic challengers across Virginia would have ridden that secrecy meme all the way to victory. Now it’s moot. Ditto for the smoking ban.
House Republicans can’t decide if they want to win or they want to be ideologically pure. They can’t do both. But they’ll keep trying.