"I have pledged to New Hampshire to get things accomplished," said Rep. Frank Guinta, who was elected in 2010, defeated the next cycle, and reelected to his old seat last week. "Look, there's going to be different perspectives and different points of view, and that's welcomed. But you've got to find a way to get to a solution-based governing approach, and I think members from red states get that we have to govern, we have a responsibility to do that."
As a counterpoint, in as many as a dozen seats already safely held by Republicans, retiring or defeated GOP moderates are about to be replaced by more-conservative members. Among the new conservative congressmen are Reps. Barry Loudermilk and Jody Hice of Georgia, as well as Gary Palmer of Alabama and Dave Brat, who unseated former Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia.
"There are numerous movement conservatives in the new class," one GOP chief of staff said. "If leadership thinks it'll be easier to pass nonconservative things, not only are they mistaken, they are already selling out the mandate upon which so many new House members and senators were elected."
Self-identified movement conservatives already serving in the House are heartened by what they see as backups in the fight to drive the party right. Rep. John Fleming, cochair of an antiabortion group, the Values Action Team, said his group met Thursday to consider how to pass antiabortion measures in the next Congress, particularly by attaching amendments to appropriations bills. They also want to act decisively against President Obama's policies on health care and immigration.
"There's going to continue to be a tension between conservatives who really want to push the pedal down, start forcing things to happen, [and moderates]," Fleming said. "The weight is moving to more conservative members, more conservative policies. So that dynamic, that tension will be there, but I think we're going to start winning more of these arguments."
But that is just the kind of legislation that could—and in the past has—gotten moderate Republicans into electoral trouble. Keeping the Right happy and the center-Right in office will not be easy. And some in the Republican Party have come to the opposite conclusion after the election, seeing more moderates coming to the conference—and perhaps to Boehner's rescue.
Several House members have said keeping these gains outside of red states will help the long-term sustainability of a House Republican majority. And they believe even archconservatives will realize that Boehner and fellow leaders would then need to protect and boost the prospects of those potentially vulnerable members in 2016, a presidential year when Democratic turnout is likely to be higher.
The survival of such new members will depend on more efforts at bipartisanship and legislative accomplishment, some Republicans say.