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Politics & Government

Political Scientist: Internal GOP Conflict will Continue - Establishment vs Insurgent


At their weekend convention, Gov. Walker urged Wisconsin Republicans to focus on fiscal achievements, brushing back issues a GOP faction favors.

As the party prepared for this fall's elections, delegates rejected items a small subset of the GOP advanced.

They included a call for secession if necessary, nullification of federal laws if deemed harmful to the state and tossing out Common Core - new academic standards.

While the convention dismissed those items, the coalition that advanced them is obviously "strong, organized and vocal," according to Assistant Professor of Political Science Julia Azari, of Marquette University. 

Azari says the factionalism and philosophical debates occurring within the state GOP reflect what's happening within the national party. "The Tea Party and more broadly, this emphasis on more procedural questions about does the state have the right to secede, does the state have the right to nullify federal law which, nullification hadn't been taken seriously since 1830s, up until recently. These kinds of things are probably not going to have a substantive impact, but they demonstrate this symbolic commitment to rethinking the federal government, rethinking everyone's agreement about the rules of the game."

Azari says she foresees conflict within the GOP continuing that "is not just about moderate and conservative but really is about establishment versus insurgent and this impulse in the party to break away, to embrace rebellion as a political strategy as opposed to people within the party, like Walker, who might be very conservative in their policy views but want to distance themselves from some of these radical strategies," Azari says.

It is not unusual, Azari says, for infighting to have developed within the Republican Party. She says the GOP that developed in response to the Obama Administration was strong, united and understood what it stood for and against but now faces different viewpoints, now that the administration's tenure is winding down.