Despite Wins, GOP Has Own Rifts to Heal (AP Analysis)

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 9:01 am  

Republican Rep. Davy Carter's surprising and rapid election as incoming speaker last week highlighted the divides within the GOP.

Carter insists that there's no policy divide, and notes that Democrats offered multiple candidates for speaker when they held the majority as well.

"We'll get beyond the speaker's race," he said. "Everyone has the same conservative policy (beliefs) in the caucus and I suspect and expect that everyone will work together in the session."

Beebe is already hoping that his push for Medicaid expansion — which he says could help avoid cuts to seniors in nursing homes — could win over Republicans who haven't completely ruled out implementing portions of the new federal health care law that GOP leaders oppose. Expanding Medicaid and most budget bills will require a three-fourths vote in both chambers, a threshold lawmakers say makes working together a necessity.

"It is not only practical for us to work together. It is mathematically required," Rep. Darrin Williams, who was ousted as speaker-designate shortly before Carter's election, told lawmakers in his last plea to keep his job.

That math is also what may keep Republicans together, though GOP leaders are now preparing for a healing period.

"I just think we're in a good place together, though there's going to be a lot of work" said Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, who voted for Carter. "The vote wasn't 100 to 0. Whenever a vote's not 100 to 0, that means there's going to be some question marks and some hurt feelings and that's where it is."

Rep. John Burris, who also backed Carter, said the disagreement over the chamber's leader isn't a sign of a deeper struggle and that the caucus will be united when the session begins in January.

"We're all bigger than personality struggles and things like that," Burris said. "We know what's important and it's not titles or positions. It's the policy."

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)



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