No more 'New England Republicans'

Matt Purple
The American Spectator

During his three terms in Congress, Rob Simmons often referred to himself as a “Connecticut Republican.” The stress was always on the first word.

If Connecticut Republican is a species, then its genus is the oft-mentioned and oft-misrepresented New England Republican. Conventional wisdom holds that these are fiscally conservative, socially liberal GOPers representative of the region’s wealth and tolerance. They’re for balanced budgets without the Bible Belt.

Simmons is in the midst of a heated Republican primary against challengers Linda McMahon and Peter Schiff to replace liberal Connecticut icon Chris Dodd in the Senate. A former congressman from eastern Connecticut, Simmons had eagerly jumped in to challenge Dodd, assuming he’d coast to victory. Now Dodd has bowed out to be replaced by popular Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and McMahon has caught up with Simmons, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

If New England Republicans were really fiscal conservatives, then one would be desperately needed in Connecticut, which has a projected budget deficit of $3 billion by 2012. As the state’s fiscal chickens come home to roost, there’s a rare anti-government sentiment in the Nutmeg State that the candidates are trying to tap into. Schiff, an articulate economist, constantly rages against all forms of government. McMahon, a former president of popular wrestling franchise WWE, touts her experience as a businesswoman and promises to “lay the smackdown” on Washington.

Simmons’ strategy has been to embody the popular perception of the New England Republican. As he declared at a recent debate, he’s fiscally conservative “because it’s your money” and socially moderate “because it’s your life.” This has always been his philosophy, he promises. Trust him.

If that were true, New England would be in the midst of a decades-long libertarian renaissance and Logan Airport would have been renamed after Ayn Rand.

The reality is that New England Republicans like Simmons are usually politicians who want to enact the Democratic agenda at a slightly slower pace than Democrats…

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