At the end of last week we discussed some of the names that have been floated to lead the RNC and Republican Party of Iowa. In both instances there are probably other interested parties who haven’t stepped forward yet, especially in regards to the Republican Party here in Iowa. This weekend we learned that Doug Gross is assembling a group of people this week to discuss how Republicans can narrow the Democrat’s edge in voter registration, which would also help Republicans win statewide elections.
Additionally a small group of conservatives gathered to discuss potential options for chairperson of the Republican Party of Iowa. However, it seems that the State Central Committee will not elect a chair until January, a move that I think is a mistake as Republican’s need all the time they can get since the clock its already counting down to election day 2010. While I would never recommend rushing such an important decision, I think having the new chair in place before January 1st would be wise.
Interestingly enough both National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Doug Gross discussed the future of the Republican Party in Iowa on Iowa Press this past weekend. The interview didn’t generate any real fireworks, but it also lacked any specific ideas to move our party forward. All I took out of it was to expect more of the same, which means we should prepare to lose more legislative seats in 2010 and maybe a statewide elected Republican unless we can rally around the cause of winning elections.
All Republicans need to swallow hard and unite if we want to win in 2010. For that to happen I think both sides need to accept some of the blame for the position we find ourselves in. So let’s discuss the crap that we need to deal with before we can more on.
Social Conservatives need to be more inclusive and tolerant of people and candidates who don’t comply with a strict anti-abortion litmus test.
Now first realize that I would classify myself as a member of this group. Now I’m going to tell anyone that they must support and volunteer a pro-choice candidate, but the internal bickering between the moderates and social conservatives in our party must stop. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the 2nd Congressional race, where newly elected National Committeewoman Kim Lehman sent out an email which contained an attack on Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
While Miller-Meeks wasn’t in lock step with the Steve Deace wing of the party, she publically stated that she was pro-life and Roe v. Wade was bad law which should be overturned. Miller-Meeks also believed there should be exceptions for the life of the mother and a victim of rape or incest. What was shocking to me was the fact that the most bitter and pointed comments in the Iowa Right to Life voter guide was reserved for a candidate who was 70% good on their issues. Missing in that voter guide was anything critical about Harkin, Braley, Loebsack, and Boswell.
My recommendation to our socially conservative groups is to focus your energy on electing someone who really excites you, and attack the real enemy. I don’t think anyone expects ICA or the IRL to actively campaign or support a candidate who they don’t think is with them on their issues, but they just need to learn not to attack them. Plus we have to remember that their first vote is who will be the Speaker of the House, or Majority Leader. Trust me; Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are not with us on these issues.
Social conservatives like to remind us that no election can be won without them. It’s a true statement, but politics isn’t a take it or leave it kind of business. For the pro-life, pro-family agenda to be advanced we need Republican majorities. Look at what Tom Vilsack tried to do with an executive order when first elected. Look at what the Democrats were able to do to that agenda is just one legislative session once they had total control. Yet we argue about this candidate or that candidate isn’t “pure” enough. A Republican majority in either chamber would have prevented most of this legislation.
Now I’m not saying that conservatives need to compromise their principals. They have every right to recruit and support candidates who are with them on our issues. Heck, if there is a RINO you don’t like, primary them and let the best candidate win. But when the primaries are over we need to come together and work on winning elections plain and simple.
The Republican Establishment also has things they need to work on.
It amazes me that the social conservatives are being blamed for the lack of message within the Republican Party. This couldn’t me farther from the truth. The liberal media would lead you to believe that our candidates only talk about gay marriage and abortion. I have a question for you. How much time did Jim Ross Lightfoot, Greg Ganske, Doug Gross, and Jim Nussle spend on talking about those issues in their campaigns?
Sure Nussle spent considerable time on the abortion issues but it was a self inflicted problem, not because “the base” needed convincing. When you look at the message breakdown on economic/kitchen table issues it’s been the establishment candidates who have failed us. In this last presidential campaign we saw John McCain lose the kitchen table issues to Obama, but we shouldn’t have been surprised, our Republican standard barers have not been able to win the debate on economic issues vs. their Democrat challengers for more than a decade.
Additionally we lost two incumbent state representatives last Tuesday,and one of the issues which lead to their defeat was the gas tax. Their Democrat opponents said they supported raising it. Now I know their opponents were a little fast and loose with the facts, but I don’t understand how we can get beat up on an issues like this when we are in the minority. We didn’t have to flirt around with the gas tax issue. Seriously, in all the campaign ads I watched it was the Democrat candidates making the economic argument talking about property tax relief, or attacking one of our candidates on something like the gas tax.
Here is what I remember from these establishment candidates. Lightfoot talked about totally nude dancing, Greg Ganske carried a huge pencil around and yelled “its not pencil dust”, Doug Gross followed Vilsack around with a money truck and now advocates against personal property rights, Jim Nussle wanted to create an entire new branch of state government, and our state house candidates campaigned against flower pots and trains to nowhere. Where was the argument for fundamental tax relief and simplification?
And yet we wonder why Republicans keep losing elections.
Both the Establishment and Social Conservatives are to blame for the mess we are in. The frustrating thing is they agree on about 95%, but that other 5% has created a massive divide within the party. All I know is that if want to win elections in 2010 we need the Establishment and Social Conservatives working together, not against each other.
The leadership elections in the House and Senate will give us a glimpse of our future. However, I believe the decision that the State Central Committee makes in January when they elect a new Chairperson will be the biggest indicator if we will be able to unite our party and finally start winning elections again.
While I’m glad that both the establishment crowd and conservative activists are meeting, I just wish they would sit down and meet together. If this turns out to be a battle between the two groups only one thing will come of it; defeat.