The Republican National Committee has just passed a compromise measure on a key set of resolutions that were being offered at today’s winter meeting. It would require Republican candidates to pass ideological muster in order to receive party funding.
RNC committee member James Bopp, Jr., had previously offered two resolutions. The more controversial one — commonly dubbed the “purity resolution” in the media, and opposed by RNC Chairman Michael Steele — would have forbidden RNC funding for candidates who don’t show they match up with conservative positions on eight out of ten key issues. A second resolution, which Bopp called the “accountability” resolution, would have specifically empowered the RNC chairman to consider ideology in apportioning funds to candidates.The new compromise measure is functionally similar to the accountability resolution. Bopp explained to me earlier this afternoon that the key difference is that his resolution was phrased negatively, in terms of denying funds to insufficiently conservative candidates, while the new one is phrased in positive terms of holding to the platform. It calls upon Republican leaders — a broad category that Bopp says includes the RNC, state parties and other committees — to ensure that a candidate is faithful to the Republican Party’s beliefs, as expressed in the platform.
“It passed unanimously in the [resolutions] committee,” Bopp said this afternoon. “And if it passes on the floor today as I expect, then I will withdraw my resolutions.”
The issue became very relevant recently during the NY-23 special election, when Steele continued to support moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, and not Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, right up until Scozzafava dropped out of the race (and subsequently endorsed Democrat Bill Owens, who won the election). Steele insisted that his job as RNC chairman is to support all Republican nominees, and not to cast judgment upon which are more or less ideologically deserving of support.
“Well, the discussion I had with him [Steele], the most recent discussion, was in the wake of that, because I knew his view, and he was being criticized,” said Bopp. “And I thought that criticism was unjust, because that’s the way he views his job. And that means it’s something the RNC needs to deal with. If his job description is going to be to support all candidates, that’s one thing. But if it’s to take candidate ideology into account, the job description is written by the RNC.”
Bopp said that Steele’s view of his job was a “quite reasonable belief, that his job description did not include considering ideology at all. And now we will change that with the adoption of this resolution. He is to consider that. And that’ll serve to avoid these problems with these party switchers. Chafee and Dede and Specter, giving millions of dollars to support the election of people who don’t agree with us.”