cover image The Reluctant Republican: My Fight for the Moderate Majority

The Reluctant Republican: My Fight for the Moderate Majority

Barbara F. Olschner. Univ. of Florida, $24.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8130-4453-8

In 2010, Olschner, a trial lawyer, decided to parlay her years of courtroom experience into Florida panhandle politics, and this honest, fast-paced memoir relates the challenges of being a moderate Republican swimming against the tide of the emergent Tea Party. Lacking any political experience, Olschner heads to Washington, D.C., for a policy crash course at the Heritage Foundation. With a war chest of $150,000 and the economy as her platform's centerpiece, she takes on four male opponents in Florida's District 2 congressional primary. Much to her consternation, jingoism replaces debate on the campaign trail. She bristles at the Tea Party slogan "Take our country back" in light of the fact that a Republican held the White House until 2008. Rather than addressing national issues, she finds herself in a contest for most patriotic candidate. Unable to make promises she can't keep, she tanks at a Woman's Club debate where tweets from the audience label her a "RINO" (Republican in Name Only) and faces veiled threats from a young man after refusing to pander at a small town rally. If readers of any political persuasion have doubts that politics is a dirty game, this courageous woman's diary will dispel them. (Mar.)