Uber, the app-based alternative to traditional taxi services, is becoming an icon among Republicans, who say it is an example of innovation stifled by big government—much like charter schools, for-profit colleges and market-based ideas in health care and other highly regulated industries.
Uber allows passengers weary of hailing cabs to arrange rides through their mobile phones. But in cities from Miami to Washington, D.C., it has run into government rules that make it difficult for the new service to compete against the taxi industry and other established transport companies.
“The company has become a cause célèbre among conservatives,” said GOP strategist Gregg Keller, former executive director of the American Conservative Union. “As a movement, we need to champion these kinds of disruptive technologies, because they represent the free market.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida this week became the most high-profile Republican to embrace Uber, appearing at the company’s offices in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “Regulation should never be a weapon used by connected and established industry to crowd out innovation and competition, and this is a real-world example,” he said.
Republican strategists also think younger voters, many of whom live with a smartphone in hand, will side with the political party that backs new technology. “It gives us a real political opportunity with an age group and demographic we’ve been struggling with,” Mr. Keller said.