Which Freshmen House Members Are Conservative? Time Will Tell

While the House class of 2010 is regarded as the “Tea Party Congress”, it is quite obvious that not all 87 freshmen Republicans are conservative.  All of the bills and resolutions so far have been over fundamental issues and were all supported unanimously by the Republican Conference.  Over the next few months, we will see if cracks begin to form in the conservative armor of the freshmen class.

We have seen the first signs of RINO life this past week when Charlie Bass (NH-2) and Charlie Dent (PA-15) convened their first Tuesday Group lunch of RINOs.  Bass’s efforts are not really that surprising or disappointing because he is really an old veteran RINO who was reelected in 2010 after losing his seat.  The group is co-chaired by Dent and Jo Ann Emerson (MO-8).  I couldn’t find a list of those who will attend the Tuesday meetings this session and how many of them are freshmen.  Here is a link to those who are members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a sister caucus to the Tuesday Group.

It is important to note that not everyone who is a member of the Main Street Partnership has a moderate voting record.  There are some members, such as Roscoe Bartlett, who are also on the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).  For what it is worth, there are only 6 Freshmen members of the Partnership: Charlie Bass (NH-2), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Richard Hanna (NY-24), Nan Hayworth (NY-19), Tom Reed (NY-29), Steve Stivers (OH-15).

As you can see, most of them represent swing-Dem leaning districts and were known to be moderate.  The only surprise on this list is Nan Hayworth, who definitely campaigned as a conservative.  However, she does represent a Democrat district and might have become a member for show.  She is also a member of the RSC, although so are Hanna, Reed, and Stivers.  It is more important to find out if she and the others attend the Tuesday Group.

Incidentally, throughout the election campaign, I was eager to find out who would join the RSC.  We must keep in mind that not every member is a solid conservative and not every non-member is a RINO.  Nonetheless, it provides us with a cursory view of where the member is headed in terms of ideological and partisan alignment.

There are currently 174 members of the RSC, which is roughly 72% of the Republican Conference.  Amazingly, 74 of the 87 freshmen, which is 85% of the class, joined the RSC.  Here are the 13 Freshmen who did not join.  Next to their names, I have indicated the Cook Partisan Voting Index of their district:

Justin Amash (MI-3) (R+6)
Lou Barletta (PA-11) (D+4)
Charlie Bass (NH-2) (D+3)
Dan Benishek (MI-1)(R+3)
Chip Cravaack (MN-8) (D+3)
Robert Dold (IL-10) (D+6)

Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) (D+2)
Joe Heck (NV-3) (D+2)
Tom Marino (PA-10) (R+8)
Pat Meehan (PA-7) (D+3)
David Rivera (FL-25)(R+5)
Jon Runyan (NJ-3) (R+1)
Scott Tipton (CO-3) (R+5)

Most of these members either represent Democrat or swing districts and were known to be moderates from day one.  Although, there are a few surprises like Amash, Benishek, and Marino.  However, we can’t read too much into their affiliation with the RSC, as there are some members who aren’t conservative anyway.  Only time will tell.  The important consideration however, is that we cannot automatically assume that everyone who was elected to the “tea party congress” is in fact conservative or will remain conservative.  We must trust, but verify.  Their first report card will come during next year’s primaries.

Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative