Congressman Peter King, 69, may have had enough of the ideological purity tests that pass for politics in today’s partisan politicking in Washington.
Politico reports that he’s so upset with Tea Party influence on the GOP that the Long Island congressman is actually considering joining the Democrats. King is Co Chair of the Irish Ad Hoc Committee in Congress.
In recent years King has emerged as one of the Republican Party’s most eloquent internal critics but now, with the promised shutdown threatened by Ted Cruz a reality, the congressman’s associates say there’s a dramatic intensity and sense of urgency fueling King’s indignation.
For months King has raised the alarm against what he calls the ‘Ted Cruz wing’ of the Republican Party, criticizing the GOP’s march to the hard right on issues like the effort to defund Obamacare at the cost of a government shutdown.
More than anything his friends say his frustration has grown from a conviction that Republicans have completely lost touch with the working-class voters who sent King to Congress in the first place.
As a blue-collar Republican from Nassau County King was forced to recognize how little clout he now has when only one moderate-leaning Republican – Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent – joined his effort to prevent the shutdown.
Speaking to Politico this week King rejected the notion that he is out of step with the national Republican electorate. He also rejected the idea that the Tea Party true believers who delivered the shutdown are actual conservatives.
‘I don’t consider these guys conservatives. I think the party is going in an isolationist trend. It’s appealing to the lowest common denominator in many ways. And this whole threat of defunding the government, to me, is not conservative at all,’ said King, adding: ‘Maybe we do live in different worlds. These guys from the Ted Cruz wing live in their own echo chamber.’
According to Politico, Former Senator Al D’Amato, a longtime King ally, said King is right to challenge his GOP colleagues for their shortsightedness - first for disrespecting New York’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and then for steering the party into a pointless confrontation with Obama they cannot win.
‘It was a ploy that has obviously failed, and even the yahoos must realize that it has failed,’ said D’Amato, who grumbled that ‘the Northeast (King’s district) in particular isn’t held in high esteem by some of our Republican colleagues.’
For King the choices are becoming starker thanks to the increasingly rightward tilt of the GOP, which isn’t good politics or good for the party’s election chances going forward he says.
‘Sometimes party loyalty can demand too much,’ King said. ‘That’s one of the reasons I’m speaking out, also, so that the average person out there does not think that Ted Cruz is the Republican Party or Rand Paul is the Republican Party.’
King has indicated that he hopes it doesn’t come to a full-scale break with the GOP. Politico speculates he might become the Zell Miller of the party. Governor Miller a former Democrat and Georgia governor hounded his old party after switching over.
King says there is one Republican who he believes he could support. ‘If I end up running for president, I may be an opponent of Chris Christie,’ King said. ‘But here’s a guy who is very conservative but he doesn’t antagonize. He has the support of building trade unions. He appeals to blue-collar people, independent voters.’
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