The Other Joe

Former Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman’s loss in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary may have grabbed the headlines, but Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz’s primary loss on Tuesday may create political waves just as big. Tim Walberg pulled off the rare feat of defeating an incumbent Congressman (by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin). The message from Michigan: the conservative base is tired of big-government Republicans.

Schwarz of course was backed or praised by much of the GOP establishment and business lobbying community. He also received help from liberal groups, labor unions, and the union-allied Republican Main Street Partnership. Schwarz’s loss is one more indication of the large gulf between the Washington GOP establishment and Republicans outside the Beltway. Just how out of touch that establishment can be is shown by the Republican Main Street Partnership laughably calling Schwarz a “Reagan Republican,” despite the fact that Schwarz had one of the worst fiscal records of any GOP Member in Congress.

Walberg received enormous backing from the Club for Growth and was endorsed by leading conservative and free market PACs (including NTU’s affiliated PAC). But the key to Walberg’s win lies in the conservative base, which recognized that as poor a record as Schwarz had compiled in his first term, it would only get worse if he beat back the expected primary challenge for his sophomore term. Schwarz’s support for more spending and bigger government would only have grown in succeeding years.

By nominating Tim Walberg, the voters in Michigan’s Seventh District sent a wake-up call to the GOP leadership in Washington about the importance of turning away from their profligate ways of recent years. Only time will tell if they hear it.