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Malek Assesses the Republican Field



Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk crack Fred Malek's list of most influential Republicans.

Fred Malek, longtime Republican operative and one of the leading money men in the party, has posted his response to the the Fix's most recent Friday Line in which we ranked the ten most influential Republican leaders.

Many of Malek's picks overlap our own -- Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie -- but it's worth looking at the differences between the two lists to see what Malek knows that we don't.

The most obvious difference is that the Line puts Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the second most influential Republican in the country while Malek leaves her off his list entirely.

"I have omitted my friend, Sarah Palin, as there is no clarity on her future plans," writes Malek. That omission is significant given that Malek has emerged as one of Palin's prime defenders in Washington and is one of the few people familiar with her future plans (or lack thereof). (Palin will formally resign this Saturday Sunday.)

We still believe that whether or not Palin runs in 2012 -- and, contrary to the belief of many we don't think she has made up her mind either way -- she still has a major role to play in where the party heads over the next three years. While she is lightly regarded by the Republican establishment, she has a core group of support that no other GOP politician in the country carries, a fact that ensures she will have a voice in the ongoing discussion of remaking the Republican Party.

Malek's list includes Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle -- two of whom are running for the Senate and a third who is considering it -- as the rising moderate voices in the party.

"Unless our party can embrace a big tent policy that welcomes moderates like my friend Colin Powell, we will not win elections," writes Malek.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee seems to agree, having already endorsed Crist's bid and heavily recruiting both Kirk and Castle into races. Crist seems the most likely winner and, if he does get a Senate seat, will almost certainly be mentioned as a top contender for the VP slot on the 2012 ticket.

The other person who made Malek's list but was left off of the Fix Line was Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan who is regarded as a budget wonk -- he is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee -- and is seen as a rising star within the party.

Malek praised Ryan's "clear and compelling voice" and we agree. The reason we haven't included Ryan on our Line is because being a member of the minority party in the House is a very small platform on which to make a national impact.

And, there isn't an obvious path to a larger platform for Ryan; he doesn't appear to be interested in challenging Gov. Jim Doyle or Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010 and Sen. Herb Kohl, who is up for re-election in 2012, is close to unbeatable if he decides to run.

Malek's list -- given his prominent place in the GOP -- is well worth a read. We are always interested in your feedback on our Lines so keep it coming!

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 21, 2009; 1:29 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , The Line  
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Comments

Once we finally get rid of the tainted Burris from the senate, Illinois needs a strong senate voice. I think we all must take a moment to address that exact question; how exactly can a US senator clean the State of Illinois? The answer is not a simple one.

The solution is complex, long, and will require commitments by both parties and throughout the entangled web of bureaucracy. To take the first step, we need a leader who is focused on solving the problem; from listening to Mark Kirk's announcement speech for US Senate, all of Illinois now should know that cleaning up Illinois is one of his top priorities. So that becomes the first step, having a clean leader who believes in the importance of cleaning up the Illinois system. He has shown from his past voting in the House that he has set up incentives for those who stay clean and harsh punishments such as eliminating pensions for the corrupt leaders. But being a senator and a leader will only enhance Kirk's ability to allow him to have more power over seeking out the bad apples, destroying them, and in their place planting the seeds for a new governmental system, one that puts a premium on honesty and integrity.

Posted by: vanosrapidamente | July 22, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

BB: "Which by extension makes KoZ a half-wit."

KOZ: "QED BB"

Nice to see koz agree so readily. But then, some truths are self-evident.

Posted by: nodebris | July 22, 2009 3:08 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

This is a VERY interesting piece. I really like that you set up a contrast between 'Mr. Insider' and 'Mr. Outsider'--although I can hardly consider you an outsider; 'Mr. Neutrality', perhaps?

Ryan has the substance--SO refreshing after all these 'Joe The Plumber'-esque know-nothings who spout rubbish rhetoric which is unsustainable, unsubstantiatable (is this a word???)--like the congressman from CA who's trying to defend that absurd birth certificate Bill.

Back to Ryan: Aside from the logistics, from what I've seen of Rep. Ryan, he hasn't the 'charisma' at this stage to make it up the ladder as yet. In that sense, he's a very good supporting player but neither a leading man nor a star--so your instincts were quite correct, Chris.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | July 21, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

QED BB

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 21, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

KoZ quote of the day: "Anyone with half a mind (Liberals obviously excepted) has left for more interesting climes."

Which by extension makes KoZ a half-wit.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 21, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Malek is clearly trying to make the GOP leadership look more moderate than it in fact is. Thus, off with Palin and on with Crist, Castle, Kirk and Ryan. There's an element of hope in it.

But how honest is a list that doesn't include Limbaugh? In the last poll asking republicans who they thought their spokesman was, Limbaugh topped the list.

Posted by: nodebris | July 21, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

"Malek's list is disingenuous, more a Who's Who of followers in leadership positions than in the truly influential. They all spout Party Linese to order, even the "moderates", and they all fit in the Big house where the bosses stay in air conditioned, lavishly supported luxury while the bulk of the party stays out in that windy, leaky, sweaty tent. Where they get ignored."

I think the Republican Party as it stands now, is run by extremists like Palin, Limbaugh, Gingrich and so forth. However, it will be the moderates that win elections, not the extremists. If moderate Republicans start having electoral success, they will become the leaders of the party. They will ditch Rush if they feel like they can get away with it.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 21, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"ranked the ten most influential Republican leaders."

Define influential.

If it means having the voice and influence to drive the Party to suicide, Limbaugh and Palin have influence all out of proportion to their positions in the party. And they demonstrate their willingness to use that influence.

Malek's list is disingenuous, more a Who's Who of followers in leadership positions than in the truly influential. They all spout Party Linese to order, even the "moderates", and they all fit in the Big house where the bosses stay in air conditioned, lavishly supported luxury while the bulk of the party stays out in that windy, leaky, sweaty tent. Where they get ignored.

The most influential Republicans out there right now? The first couple to jump to the American Reform Party.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 21, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The uh people left in the GOP are just crazy.

Any "scientist" who doesn't understand how CO2 absorption spectra are heating up the earth probably got his degree from a matchbook. Just look at a line of cars on the freeway, all of them burning fuel that was removed from the ecosystem back in the Cambrian, and are now putting it back. That's not going to have any side effects?

And to think, these people get to vote. That's just wrong.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I am from Illinois Mark Kirk won't win. Illinois is VERY Democratic and diverse and Kirk will have to appeal to ALL the people not just the little people in his district. Now if Fed Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ran in Illinois for either Mayor or Senate he would win hands down even though he's a Republican. Most Democrats, including the African American community praise Fitzgerald for continuing to clean up Illinois from all its curruption. He will be the man to beat if he were to run. He is Superman right now in Illinois.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | July 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

CC - have you noticed that drivl and chrissuxcox have sucked the IQ out of your blog? you efforts to drive traffic by repeating your Palin baiting has resulted in a vacuum of thought in the other threads. Anyone with half a mind (Liberals obviously excepted) has left for more interesting climes.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 21, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

simple decision making for Libs:

Domestic policy - Fluff

Foreign Policy - Fold

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 21, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Crazy morons, cont'd:

Global Warming Is A Hoax. Audience member: “I’m actually hopeful that this vote that you made was a vote to put you out of office. [Raucous applause and cheers.] … You know, on this energy thing, I showed you, I had in my email to you numerous times there are petitions signed by 31,000 scientists that that know and have facts that CO2 emissions have nothing to do and the greenhouse effect has nothing to do with global warming. It’s all a hoax! [Applause.] First of all, I cannot for the life of me understand how you could have been one of the eight Republican traitors!” [Applause and whoops.]

Global Warming, Like Darwinian Evolution, Is Just A Theory. Audience member: “It’s still a theory, so is Darwin’s theory of evolution! And yet we have the audacity to say global warming is accurate, it’s more than a theory? How about how cold it’s been this spring. Personal data, data shows that since 1998 average temperatures have been cooling!”

The Swine Flu Epidemic Is A Conspiracy To Force AIDS-Infected Vaccines On The American Public. Audience member: “The virus was built and created in Fort Dix, a small bioweapons plant outside of Fort Dix. This was engineered. This thing didn’t just crop up in a cave or a swine farm. This thing was engineered, the virus. Pasteur International, one of the big vaccine companies in Chicago, has been caught sending AIDS-infected vaccines to Africa. Do you think I trust — I don’t trust you with anything. You think I’m going to trust you to put a needle full of dead baby juice and monkey kidneys? Cause that’s what this stuff is grown on, dead babies!”

President Obama Is Not A Citizen Of The United States. Audience member: “Congressman Castle, I want to know. I have a birth certificate here from the United States of America saying I’m an American citizen, with a seal on it. Signed by a doctor, with a hospital administrator’s name, my parents, the date of birth, the time, the date. I want to go back to January 20th and I want to know why are you people ignoring his birth certificate? [Applause and cheers.] He is not an American citizen! He is a citizen of Kenya!” [Applause]

Posted by: drindl | July 21, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Poor Mike Castle, facing a roomful of hostile loons. Wonder how long till he too is forced to switch parties because of the craziness of his own?

Moderate Republican Mike Castle (R-DE), who holds Delaware’s only Congressional seat, hit a wall of right-wing rage during a town hall meeting in Georgetown, DE. The June 30 meeting, part of his health care “listening tour” across the state, came just days after Rep. Castle was one of just eight Republicans to vote in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The event rapidly devolved into a moblike atmosphere as conservative activists challenged Castle with the full spectrum of right-wing conspiracy theories:

‘Socialized Medicine’ Will Destroy The Nation ‘Faster Than The Twin Towers.’ Audience member: “I don’t have the answers for how to fix the broken pieces of our health care system, but I know darn well if we let the government bring in socialized medicine, it will destroy this thing faster than the twin towers came down.” [Applause and cheers]

The Cap And Trade ‘Tax’ Will Kill The American Economy. Audience member: “Do you have any idea what that cap and trade tax thing, bill that you passed is going to do to the Suffolk County poultry industry? That’s how chicken houses are heated, with propane. It outputs CO2. I mean, I’m outputting CO2 right now as I speak. Trees need CO2 to make oxygen! You can’t tax that!”

Posted by: drindl | July 21, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"All things are possible for those who love God and are called to His Purposes."

Posted by: JakeD

==

Exactly, Palin has as much chance of winning as the Red Sea has of being parted again.

I guess you're counting on your imaginary celestial playmate to deliver those "sixty million votes."

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's your phony hypocrite Jindal. Just anothr lying lowlife creep.

'Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) reemerged on the national stage yesterday, penning an op-ed in the Politico to slam efforts to reform health care and declaring the Economic Recovery Act a failure. Jindal declared the Recovery Act “a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated.” However, less than 24 hours before Jindal published his op-ed, Jindal traveled to Anacoco, Louisiana to present a jumbo-sized check to residents of Vernon Parish. The funds included hundreds of thousands of dollars directly from the Recovery Act — at least $157,848 in Community Block Grant money authorized by the Recovery Act and $138,611 for Byrne/JAG job training programs created by the Recovery Act. Rather than credit the federal government or the Recovery Act he opposed, Jindal printed his own name on the corner of the massive check."

Posted by: drindl | July 21, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Palinites are stupid.

==

They have to be

Posted by: chrisuxcox

and that gentle readers, is the sum total of leftist Loon lib intellect for today. try back tomorrow for pretty much the same. In fact, one day is pretty much a carbon copy of another.

Meanwhile, Lib policies circle the proper bowl. It seems the Messiah's legacy will be the one enormous flop of a spending bill called the porkulus he was able to pass since no one actually read it.

Otherwise, mostly fluff and fold.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 21, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Is this thread directly linked to the waiting room at the asylum? all the usual degenerates are here spouting their loony nonsense.

What satisfaction do you get posting the same mindless babble day after day? Try some new babble once in a while.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 21, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"All things are possible for those who love God and are called to His Purposes."


Guess that's why republicans lost the last election.

Posted by: drindl | July 21, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"I have omitted my friend, Sarah Palin, as there is no clarity on her future plans,"

There is no clarity on her anything. She is incoherent.

Posted by: drindl | July 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"All things are possible for those who love God and are called to His Purposes."

Posted by: JakeD | July 21, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Palin and her flock of boobs must think the 59 million votes McCain got with her as the running mate will just jump over to her in 2012.

And that people like Mitt Romney will just roll over so she can get the nomination.

==

Frank Rich says Palin will "crush Romney like a bug."

Romney isn't really a social conservative, and he's exactly the kind of educated urbanite that the Palin crowd feels is looking down at them, making fun of their accents and their poor education. While Romney certainly has more appeal to Republican voters nationally, the GOP leadership is aligned with the base, the angry and self-pitying rural southern voters for whom Palin's "real Americans" drivel has tangible appeal.

Republicans have painted themselves into a corner and the only way they can get out is to forsake the base, forsake Palin, and go for the moderates. Which they won't.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Palinites are stupid.

==

They have to be

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

As long as a bunch of disaffected Dixiecrats and dittoheads keep the GOP's tent decidedly white, there will be no room for moderates.

Posted by: molsonmich | July 21, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Palin and her flock of boobs must think the 59 million votes McCain got with her as the running mate will just jump over to her in 2012.

And that people like Mitt Romney will just roll over so she can get the nomination.

Palinites are stupid.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I believe it's generally assumed that Herb Kohl isn't going to stand for re-election in 2012, so there should be a path for Ryan into higher office.

Posted by: benjp | July 21, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Cillizza regarding Gov. Palin.

==

Who cares what you believe about "Gov." Palin? You think she can get 60 million votes but you won't say how, other than some Walter Mitty daydreaming about another terrorist attack.

To the extent that Sarah Palin remains prominent, the GOP loses. She repels far more support than she attracts, and the detritus she attracts are a given for the GOP anyway.

Her resignation was so abrupt and so incoherent that she probably didn't even know that morning she was going to do it. She'll try a series of deranged stunts to stay in the news but she won't get any more credible, nor any smarter, nor any more disciplined, and she will remain the best thing to happen to the Democrats since Obama.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I would also put Palin on the list somewhere. #2 might be a little high but top 10 definitly.

Also Malek's list reads like a country club member list. All the people he has are white and completely void of real ideas. Mitch McConnel and John Boehner aren't even the most influential members of their respective caucus. That honor belongs to Eric Cantor and the Maine Twins (Collins and Snowe).

I also would put Orrin Hatch on the list for the time being. The Health care reform package that leaves the senate will have his stamp of approval or it won't pass, and frankly I don't think Hatch will let down his old friend Ted Kennedy on this one.

Posted by: AndyR3 | July 21, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

You must be the person he was referring to when he said "We still believe..."

Posted by: shrink2 | July 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Cillizza regarding Gov. Palin.

Posted by: JakeD | July 21, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

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