Running in a presidential election cycle with Hawaii-born Barack Obama on the ballot is no picnic for a Republican, but Lingle has overcome long odds before -- she won reelection as governor by the largest margin in Hawaii's history. She's developed an impressive record as a decisive leader, combining fiscal responsibility with a big-tent approach on social issues. She would be a refreshing centrist Republican voice in the U.S. Senate.
It's a tight Senate race between two former Virginia governors -- centrist Democrat Tim Kaine and conservative Republican George Allen -- to see who will succeed Jim Webb in the Senate. Kaine is the kind of solid Third Way Democrat who has proven he can win statewide in the Old Dominion state, like his predecessor Mark Warner, who currently serves in the Senate and has been a leader of the Gang of Six negotiations to find a bipartisan deal on the deficit and the debt.
Kaine -- a former DNC Chair - is not as nonpartisan as many centrists, but he is a classic DLC Blue Dog of the kind we have seen almost hunted into extinction on Capital Hill. His election would send a welcome signal about that tradition's persistence and further commitment to the kind of thoughtful bipartisan cooperation we need to see in the Senate.
When Scott Brown won the special election to succeed Ted Kennedy in the Senate, it was seen as a tea party victory predicated upon his opposition to Obama's health care reform. But as senator, Brown has developed a decidedly centrist voting record -- being recognized by the National Journal voting records as having a 55% conservative and 45% liberal composite record, placing him squarely in the center of the Senate.
He has tried to rekindle the Ed Brooke Massachusetts moderate tradition and is locked in a tough race against Elizabeth Warren, who has developed a strong following for her fearless work in the wake of the fiscal crisis.
But Brown's record cannot and should not be ignored -- and if he loses this Senate seat in the headwinds of the likely Obama landslide in his home state of Massachusetts, we could see Brown back in the Senate or serve as governor sometime in the future.
To many moderates, Michele Bachmann is the symbol of everything that's wrong with our divided and dysfunctional congress. She's quick to call opponents anti-American and weave unhinged conspiracy theories into policy debates. But she's never had a serious candidate campaign against her until now.
Jim Graves is a 58-year-old, self-made Minnesota businessman and grandfather of seven, still married to his high-school sweetheart. And he's got Bachmann on defense in her reelection effort.
"My policy approach transcends political lines," Graves told me in an interview for DailyBeast, "I'm a centrist, a libertarian when it comes to social issues. I don't think government should be involved with personal lives. I really believe in separation of church and state. Bachmann wants to blur those lines -- she would (replace) our democracy with a theocracy," he says. "She epitomizes everything that's wrong with Congress and this country -- a lack of civility, a lack of bipartisan or nonpartisan approach to problem solving."
A Republican running for Congress in Massachusetts this year might be dismissed as a political suicide mission, but Richard Tisei is an exception in every sense. He's running a strong race against an uninspiring and ineffective liberal incumbent John Tierney in a state where registered independents outnumber Democrats or Republicans.
Tisei is popular state legislator and a self-described "live and let live' Republican -- who applies the principles of individual liberty and individual responsibility consistently in his political philosophy -- get government out of the bedroom and out of the boardroom. He is also, perhaps not incidentally, openly gay. But Tisei's constituents have come to see him as a strong advocate of fiscal responsibility and limited government, a libertarian New England Republican in the mold of Bill Weld rather than Mitt Romney.
This upstate New York Republican congressman is an independent thinker who does not let party loyalty get in the way of his common sense approach to solving problems. The longtime businessman and community leader does not mince words or shy away from condemning impractical extremes on both sides. He told the Syracuse Post-Standard, "I'm frustrated by how much we -- I mean the Republican Party -- are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history. ... If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there's not a lot of value there."
That's the kind of principled independence, and commitment to governing in the national interest, that we need to see more of in the next Congress.
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