Congressional Republicans and the GOP nomineeAfter Congressman David Davis (R-Tennessee 01) addressed Tennesseans for Immigration Reform and Education (T-FIRE) Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to speak with him for a few minutes and I wanted as honest an assessment as possible of how he believed Congressional Republicans would handle the illegal immigration question during an administration led by John McCain. As Davis pointed out, his voting record on the issue has been solid, and since he is a freshman we only have two years worth of a record to examine.
Davis did say that the House Republicans met with McCain this past week, and that during this meeting members made clear to him that when they return to their districts and hear from the people who elected them, they are being told by those folks in overwhelming numbers that not only will they not tolerate any bill that would grant amnesty, but those members who vote for such an amnesty can expect to pay a heavy price. McCain can afford to be as politically aloof as he is because he serves six-year terms in the Senate, and can play conservative at election time. House members can't do that, as they come before the people for a vote every two years. It is far easier to scrutinize and study the voting record of a two-year Congressman than a six-year Senator. As a result, House Democrats tend to be more liberal and House Republicans more conservative than their Senate colleagues (the exceptions to that tend to be Republicans who are elected in typically Democratic districts or Democrats elected in Republican ones).
The question that this discussion brings to bear is this: How will a John McCain nomination affect the Congressional Election? Specifically, will House Republicans distance themselves from him in order to pacify discontent in their districts? I suspect we will likely see very little mention of John McCain when House Republicans are on the stump at home this fall, especially in those races where incumbents are being primaried. If Congressiional Republicans won't back John McCain hard, he may go into November having to fight for the White House (mostly) alone.