Young Guns II
Some of the GOP's heavy hitters are giving thought to the party's future.
Through the tall trees of northern Wisconsin, Republican Sean Duffy is stalking a giant. The 38-year-old district attorney is talking fiscal responsibility, job creation, entitlement reform. He's scoring Washington for higher taxes, and for a health-care takeover. He's Facebooking and Twittering. He comes across as a serious yet positive reformer, a combo that has caught the public's eye.
He'll need that eye, and more, since his Goliath is one David Obey, Democratic head of the Appropriations Committee, the liberal bull who has occupied Wisconsin's Democratic-leaning 7th congressional seat since before Mr. Duffy was . . . born. That the Republican is getting some traction says something about how bitter voters are with the Democratic agenda. It says something equally important about a nascent GOP effort to rebrand the party.
Meet the new Young Guns.
The recent wave of Democratic retirements bodes well for Republicans. Yet they are still largely winning by default. The public doesn't like the Democratic agenda, but it hasn't forgotten the GOP's own corruption and loss of principle. And crafting a new image is a tough haul for a minority that is stuck responding to events, and that is still populated by many of the same, entrenched faces.
What is happening instead is a real (if underreported) effort to reshape the party from the bottom up—to, in effect, repopulate it with a crop of reformist candidates in the midterm. Behind the effort are three congressmen—Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, Virginia's Eric Cantor and California's Kevin McCarthy.