4:45 pm Nov. 4, 2011
Representative Nan Hayworth endorsed Mitt Romney this afternoon. It's just one of many congressional endorsements Romney has rolled out in recent weeks, as the Republican establishment has gradually come to accept him as the presumptive nominee.
But in the case of Hayworth, a freshman congresswoman in a quintessential swing district, it's particularly telling.
Her district, New York's 19th, covers parts of the Hudson Valley and, in recent elections, has tended to mirror national trends at the top of the ticket.
A Democrat, John Hall, won the seat in 2006 with just 51 percent of the vote, as George Bush's popularity plummeted midway through his second term. Two years later, Hall rode Barack Obama's coattails to 59 percent of the vote.
In 2010, Hall got bowled over by the Republican wave and lost the seat to Hayworth, who ran with Tea Party approval and support, by six points, 53 to 47.
Now, in addition to whatever challenge she faces in the general election from the eventual Democratic nominee, she's also facing a potential threat from the right within her own party, from State Senator Greg Ball, a proud Tea Partier.
For Hayworth, it seems, the potential benefits of endorsing Romney, whose case against Herman Cain and Rick Perry and the rest is based on general-election feasibility, outweigh the potential costs of riling up the Tea Party crowd.
Like Romney, Hayworth has done her best to focus on fiscal issues, and has tried to navigate around taking divisive stances on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. (Pictured above: Hayworth at the Log Cabin Republicans' Spirit of Lincoln Awards in September.)