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Steve Landes moderating in face of Democratic challenge?

shutdownSteve Landes is touting his support for a pay raise for teachers in the new state budget.

And you thought Democrats running hard in districts that they haven’t traditionally won was just so much for show.

Landes, a Republican who has represented the 25th House District since 1996, isn’t exactly a moderate Republican.

Among other things, he made it a point to vote against the Democratic push to expand Medicaid, even last year, when it was clear that the expansion was finally going to pass.

He’s been consistently outspoken on social issues, which, as a state representative, makes no sense, in terms of policy, but sure does make the conservatives in the home district happy.

So, why do you see Landes now touting his support for a pay raise for teachers?

The 25th House District was drawn to be safe Republican, to the point that Landes didn’t even face opposition for re-election in 2011 and 2013, the first two elections after the most recent redistricting.

Angela Lynn challenged Landes for the first time in 2015, and Landes still won with more than 66 percent of the vote.

Then, in 2017, Lynn challenged again, and with little, if really any, support from Richmond, Lynn was able to make it a race, getting just short of 42 percent in the two-way race.

Which, that’s still not enough to make you think, Landes is in trouble, but, well, look at Landes this week, touting his support for teacher pay raises.

This is the same Steve Landes who, heading into the 2017 cycle, was touting his work on a free-speech on college campus bill, more red meat for the conservatives there, and trumpeting his push for right to work and opposition to Medicaid expansion.

Landes is still the odds-on favorite to win re-election in November, but, he’s moderating, or at least making it look like he’s moderating, just to make sure.

Memo to Richmond: this is why you run hard in districts like the 25th.

Column by Chris Graham

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augusta free press