Monday, November 10, 2008

Republicans of every stripe must unite if we ever want to win.

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.


  1. Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It would appear from my blogging that most leaders are in the classic model of overreacting to our recent trip to the electoral woodshed instead of detaching and providing the "helicopter view" that real leadership provides. I'm sick of everyone in leadership reacting to what's on the horizon when our real need is to find the personwhat who can see well beyond the horizon and LEAD us with a long term plan that grows us because we returned to the principles that got us here in the first place. I've yet to see a PLAN and I'm tired of the regurgitated list of failed kandidates and leaders from the long Iowa roster of political wannabees.
    Don't forget....Obama built a huge following here in Iowa from nothing and they're still active!
    If we're not careful, and bold...we stand to wander in our own cornfields for 40 years, much like the Egyptians did in their own desert!

  2. I find it funny that people like Doug Gross are meeting to discuss anything. What do they have to discuss? They have no power in the state party and their power in the legislature has been almost destroyed by half a decade of losses. Doug Gross will never lead, or have a hand in leading the Republican Party of Iowa for one reason: He’s Arrogant and sees Conservatives as pawns who should simply follow his orders and give no input. He shouldn’t be surprised when Social Conservatives reject him and walk away from his chosen candidates and initiatives.

    At the end of the day, Gross has become a rallying cry for Conservatives to continue to hold moderates out of party leadership. They are so afraid of a guy whom they perceive to be making a power play to oust all of them and replace them with his cronies. Did you listen to Gross on IPTV this weekend? From the sound of its, that’s EXACTLY what Gross has in store. Gross is just as bad, or worse, for the party as he accuses Scheffler of being. The best possible thing Doug Gross can do for the Republican Party of Iowa is to go back to his law firm and stop pretending that people respect him. All Gross’ presence will do is drive the wedge between Social Conservatives and the rest of the party deeper.

  3. I think leadership should talk to Ag Sec Northey. He won in what otherwise was a Democratic landslide in 2006 and seems to have the even keeled demeanor one needs to discuss both challenges and solutions rationally.

  4. To recapture an old phrase, War Krusty!

    When you look at the current crop of Republican officials with a view towards 2010 and beyond, one person pops out to me: Bill Northey.

    Bill won in a Democrat year, as was noted in the previous post. But most importantly, look at him personally. He's smart, he's outgoing and campaigns hard. He understands the economic issues, and is personally very conservative. When pressed on the social issues, he's clear and concise, even though his job as Ag Sec'y really doesn't encompass that jurisdiction. He uses social issues to (a) define himself and give voters a guide to his moral and ethical compass, and (b) as an immediate segue back to economic and pocketbook issues.

    All too often we overlook that which is right in front of our faces. Bill's other quality is that he undersells himself, which in my book is a virtue. We have a leader who has proven that he can bridge and unite. He becomes the titular leader of this Party, and for one, I'm pretty happy about that.

    Going into 2010, we need to have three leaders driving the bus: Northey, Latham and King. They need to address and help us lead a rebuilding effort among the grassroots, something that King and Latham have proven very good at. They need to help us guide messaging and communications, something that they're very good at. For Latham to walk all over Bailout Becky in 2008 and in some very Democratic counties indicates to me that he knows how to sell pocketbook issues.

    We have walked in lockstep with the legislative leadership for one cycle too many. It's time for adult leadership, and we have three names right in front of us.

  5. Hey Anon, Don't forget everbody's favorite CPA David Vaudt.

    CPA! CPA! CPA!

  6. This state's gonna need a CPA to figure out the budget hole the Statehouse Democrats are gonna dig this year...

    The way we're going..we're gonna be on the path that California is on before too much damn longer.

  7. I think it's apparant that we already have the people in the party (Northey, Vaudt, King, Latham, and many others) we need to move forward with our Conservative message. The most important thing is to find the people with genuine passion for the issues. This passion is what we all need to have. And I emphasize that it can't just be a passion for winning elections, because that is not enough. We have to show everyone why we are correct on the fiscal issues. We have to show everyone that the social issues aren't just a campaign slogan and we are willing to follow through once elected. When it comes to picking party leadership we have to go with the people who are passionate about the issues, have a proven record of actually advancing the conservative agenda, and have shown that they can win elections because of their passion and dedication. Same thing with the candidates we pick. No RINOs, no SoCon messages that are only a tool for election. Passion and dedication, we can never beat that horse to death.

  8. Bottom line is the pocket book. Republicans need to stay on that message. Social issues are great. People go the primaries and vote with their hearts but in the general they vote with their heads i.e. pocket book.

    The Democrats do not win not on social issues. They barley brought them up except in the context of the “middle class”. They managed to convince voters that they were looking out for their best interest. Think about this issues not brought to the table during the election - Iraq, terrorism, abortion and gay marriage. The democrats talked too and about tax payers. In the end people tend to vote for the less of two evils.

    The Republicans still jump up and down about our morals and that we are better for the tax payers. However, we can’t sell a glass of water to wealthy thirsty man in the desert. Clinton managed to get people to drink his cool aid in 1992. The only difference this time they had somebody that could memorize a coward.

    We should focus on the tax payers and not stray down paths that delude our message. McCain was a rino and it showed. His message was deluded and sometimes we couldn’t tell which direction he was going. Obama and the Democrats on the over hand had many faults and issues that could have easily been used against. They just kept ignoring anything that may have hurt them and kept saying over and over and over the middle class tax break.

    We lost on a lack of a clear message and the economy.

  9. Clinton, even into the late 90's, would always say mention 3 things: health care, education, and the environment. Anytime he talked he would mention these three things. he didn't DO anything significant about these issues, but that didn't matter--to half the population, the fact you care about something important to them is all that matters. Dems get this. Image is everything, and this year, the image I saw in the Dem ads on TV were they are for lower taxes, vetrans benefits and "investment" in education. Find 3 things everyone supports and get on that bus.

  10. Speaking of leadership, but not to change to subject, has anyone heard how the leadership race went today in the House R caucus? That alone will probably tell us what the next two years will be like...

  11. I'd like to add some thoughts later, but the first to come to mind is my appreciation and respect for the Krusty Konservative. The founder of this blog is insightful and consistent, and we should be thankful for the forum his/her blog provides. I appreciate your comments, Krusty.

  12. The problem with the dems idea that you can just say what people want to hear is that in four years when we have a message and actual solutions to problems they are going to get left behind. The libs' emotional messages carry no weight and we won't win elections by just saying what people want to hear.

  13. Paulsen is IN.

    Here's a bit of discussion from Constitution Daily

  14. how does one send krusty some more gossip? I have some juicy bits that will tell us more about what direction the party is going

  15. Anon 2:29,

    Just post it.

  16. Has everyone forgot that by moving people who are already in leadership is what has cost us many good elected people? My friends excuse the pun but we need a farm team and they need to be funded and supported. We should take back our counties and propose bold and sweep ideas that astonish! Why not eliminate property tax?

  17. Gosh, 2:42!! Eliminating Property Taxes is a great idea. I'm sure the Democrats in control of the Iowa General Assembly and the U.S. Congress are really going to grab onto that idea and run with it


  18. I believe you can email juicy tidbits to:

  19. Russ from WintersetNovember 10, 2008 at 8:37 PM

    Well said, Krusty. I've been saying this for months, but you said it better.

  20. We kicked out Rants!!!!
    This is the first step, we are on our way back!

    ABOUT TIME!!!!

  21. I'm a Northey fan, but let's not forget that he beat a certified goofball in 2006. Bill certainly has a great resume for the Secretary of AG position, but I don't think a victory over the wingnut from Atlantic that he faced tells us much about his viability for winning the governor's office.

  22. Well said, Krusty. If we want to win elections, we MUST stay united during a general election.

    Duke it out in the primaries but there are only two teams in this ballgame and to not fully support the Republican team ends in the far worse Democrats winning.

    The very fact that Democrats are running this state into the ground financially, and then the voters of Iowa return them to office with a greater majority says that either the voters are completely stupid or they are willing to trade their liberty for what they perceive is to be free goodies.

    Frankly, I think Democrats are winning because too many ignorant voters believe Democrats really care more about them than Republicans. They believe the clap trap that Democrats care for the little guy. Of course, it's BS. Democrats only care about them as long as it gets them votes.

    The truth is the Democrat party has become the party of the super wealthy and the dependent poor.

  23. I am a social conservative who also understands that in order to advance my agenda, we have to be in the majority.

    I am perfectly willing to use a RINO to let me achieve my goal.

  24. As a former republican and now a staunch independent I would say you need to find a way to help fiscally conservative more socially moderate republicans feel at home in the party again. Calling us RINO's does nothing to help us feel welcome. I was proud to be a Bob Ray republican but these days you would call him a RINO!

  25. I voted for Barry Goldwater before many of you were born and have voted for more repubs than demos across the intervening years, but today my sentiments align more closely with those of 10:04 Anonymous.

    And Krusty, I must respectfully mention that the "OSHIT-08" insert on the left hand column is kind of tacky at best. Disrespect, RINO-calling, war/fight/etc, enemy/unpatriotic/non-American (raise your hands, let's see how many of you served our Uncle on the alter of military service)/etc, are shameful commentary and hardly what will bring back those repubs who've quietly gone away.

    The readers here ought read more of Peggy Noonan and David Brooks than the more angry talk-radio pied pipers who've only accomplished the dumbing down of the Grand Old Party.

  26. Annon 9:13,

    Yes we should all read more of David Brooks and the East Coast elites, because they are so smart and helped push McCain and other liberal beliefs like amnesty! That's the last thing we need. As was said by someone else we don't need to be a party of "me to" republicans we need to be Conservatives and push back and educate the voters on Conservative beliefs of Tax Cuts, Fiscal Responsiblity and a Strong Military. That is how we will win back this majority not by trying to out liberal the democrats

  27. I have a question for anon 9:13? When you voted for Barry Goldwater back in 1964, how many older Republicans said the same thing to you that you just said to everyone here? People said negative things to the conservatives who backed Reagan in 1976 and to the conservatives who supported Governor Branstad back in 1982. We’re in a new generation in 2008 and again the voices of Republicans-past are yelling that the new conservative movement is “to conservative” and has a “non-inclusive” message. They are no different from the movements of the past in terms of their assent. They are new fresh faces taking on the old “establishment” of course they are going to ruffle the feathers of the people currently vested in the old “establishment.” However, both sides need to keep in mind that today’s “establishment” is yesterday’s “outsider.” Just as today’s “outsider” is tomorrow’s “establishment.”

  28. 9:13 from last night here again:

    Fair point 12:36, about each generation repeating the same complaints.

    BTW, I hope you do come back to read this as this subject-posting is getting kind of down the page now.

    Yeah, I guess I really don't remember what the internal party squabbling was like then; might well have been much the same as currently.

    One more point I'd like to clarify form my posting of last evening; my comment about, "(raise your hands, let's see how many of you served our Uncle on the alter of military service)" doesn't read well and seems out of place. I intended that as an "indictment" of the conservatives whose concept of "patriotism" is wearing flags and putting tacky magnetic yellow ribbons on their vehicles while villifying people who don't agree politically with them. As a man who served almost 10 years in the military and whose son has spent 17 in the military (2 tours tent-camping in Afghanistan, 1 tour on the ground in Saudi Arabia, 1 tour on a carrier in the Gulf, and Iraq 1 on a carrier in the Gulf) I can be allowed to think the Pharisee-Patriots should be ashamed of themselves.

    As for 11:27, I'll stand by my respect for Brooks and Noonan. Class, grace, and dignity aren't "elite" traits, they're traits displayed by polite human beings.

  29. First, thank you for your service. I want to be honest with you and say that I personally did not serve in the military. I did try but I was an “unacceptable candidate” due to a heart condition I was born with. However, I have the utmost respect for people like you who did serve and questioning the patriotism of your opponent is not, in my view, a valid political tactic.

    Second, I did not intend to chastise you with my comment above. I simply wanted to remind everyone that the new conservative movement is not a group of overzealous extremists. Its simply a group of people who believe the party has forgotten its core principals and want to return to them. Its no different than the movements before them. The problem with being the “establishment” is that after 15 or 20 years you start to forget why you started in the first place (its actually a pretty compelling argument for term limits really) and in time, your base gets angry with you for abandoning your principals for the sake of increasing your own political capitol. The end result is someone challenging you for the hearts and minds of our own party.