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GOP House Leaders Tout Bold New Candidates, Discourage Government Shutdown

When the dust settles after election day, what will the new House Republican caucus look like? The Wall Street Journal reports that while the campaign trail rhetoric among GOP challengers has been feisty this season, Republicans in leadership are wary of shutting down government like they did following a standoff with President Clinton in 1994.

Their desire to prove themselves capable of passing legislation is seen most clearly in the leadership of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who’s been busy recruiting a slate of House candidates with a wealth of political experience — even if he’s sometimes loath to admit it:

In touting the Republican candidates, he talks frequently about Stephen Fincher, a cotton farmer and gospel singer from Frog Jump, Tenn., who has never run for office before. But equally important is Rick Berg, who served in the North Dakota legislature for more than 25 years and may knock off longtime Rep. Earl Pomeroy. [...]

That kind of resumé is making some Republican backers anxious. At a dinner for Mr. Bruun at Portland’s University Club, a small group of donors sought assurances the new crop would be different from recent Republican majorities, especially on matters of spending.

“The freshman class is going to be bolder than anyone there,” Mr. McCarthy promised to about 15 financial-services executives who had paid $500 for their steak dinner. “They’re going to be like a stampede of horses.”

But the Journal and some House GOP leaders’ predictions about moderation may include a measure of wishful thinking. Many Republican Tea Party candidates are running on a platform that rails against both parties in power for failing to look seriously at issues like government spending, and they possess a sincere desire to repeal the Democrats’ health care bill — so it seems unlikely that they’ll assume the role of cynical Washington insiders quite so quickly.

Besides, McCarthy’s own rhetoric to donors indicates that the GOP’s public stance is that the freshman class is going to be bold — a message some candidates might just mistakenly take to heart.

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