So you want to move your state party to the right?


Here’s how you do it.

But first, some background. If you spend any time at all around conservative blogs or Tea Party folk you will get an eye/ear full about “RINOs” – Republicans In Name Only. People who run as Republicans and vote against conservative interests a good portion of the time. Some names on the national level that you will probably recognize will give you a good idea of the folks we’re talking about.

  • John McCain (Immigration)
  • Dick Lugar (Virtually Everything)
  • Orrin Hatch (see Lugar)

The important thing to realize about these folks is that they vote fairly conservatively just before their next election and then make up for it. They are also typically long time incumbents and have huge war chests and they typically will not have much in the way of Democratic competition in their general elections so they can and will (and have) spend everything they need to in order to win their primary. See John McCain’s primary against JD Hayworth last year. The really bad part of that story is that Hayworth couldn’t win an election in Arizona if his life depended on it and still, McCain spent $20MM in the primary just to make the point. And he beat JD by 20+. He spent less than a million in the general and won it handily against the no-name Democrat who got his 15 minutes of fame and will never be heard from again.

Beating an incumbent is no easy task. They have fantastic name recognition, they typically have good local offices who make sure that they take good care of constituents and they bring home the bacon. It’s very difficult to make “them” the issue, especially when “they” usually will reap good press (and their primary opponent will reap no press) and “they” will have the solid support of the State Party Organization and they have incredibly deep pockets. The only incumbents – or insiders who might as well be incumbents (see Mike Castle) – who lose are those who run campaigns based on noblesse-oblige or their opinion that they have an entitlement to the seat. See Castle, Murkowski and Martha Coakley for examples. In order to win, or even make a good run, you need a credible candidate, money, organization, money, organization, money and organization. In the last cycle we had some candidates show up late against Republican opponents who were distasteful to conservatives (Castle is the poster boy) and got big bucks from Tea Party and various PACs, mainly Sarah Palin, and they won only to make complete fools of themselves in the general and lose seat that should have been slam dunks for the good guys. But hey, they don’t call us The Stupid Party for nothing.

And now we, finally, come to the point of the article. The Republic, of Columbus, Indiana, highlights what’s happening in Montgomery, Alabama with the Republican Party. This is a great example of how to elect conservatives and build a solid conservative bench.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former Gov. Bob Riley and two legislative leaders who raised millions to help Republicans take control of the Legislature have now set a goal to collect money to defeat candidates who wear the GOP label but are Democrats in disguise.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said he, Riley and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, are working together to form Alabama 2014, which will focus on that year’s legislative elections.

Marsh said Thursday that Riley’s daughter, Birmingham attorney Minda Riley Campbell, is also involved, and they hope to raise $2 million to $3 million “to make sure true Republicans are elected in the primary.”

You really should read the whole article, it’s an object lesson is doing things right.

Again, the bottom line is really pretty simple. No differential equations required.

  • High level, high visibility Republican leaders join together to identify and elect conservatives.
  • They put together an organization to accomplish specific electoral objectives.
  • They will target specific legislators.
  • They are raising money to make credible opponents real threats to incumbents.

We need a whole lot more of this kind of organizing and a whole lot less focus on events like Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle and Joe Miller. Another excellent example of this kind of organization and thinking is happening in Indiana where State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is going to run against Dick Lugar in the ’12 primary. He’s got great statewide name recognition, money and the ability to raise more and he’s got most of the State Republican Party behind him.

In order to maximize your individual influence in your state, actually to have any influence at all, you need to be involved. The best way to get involved is to become a Precinct Committeeman. That puts you in a position to actually have a say in Republican policies and politics at the local, state and even the national level. All party leaders, all of them, are elected by PCs. The best way to start the process is to check out The Precinct Project.

Who knows, if we see more of this, we might even be able to put The Stupid Party label behind us.


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March 6, 2011 12:36 pm

It’s nice to see you gracing the pages of UP mbecker!

March 6, 2011 1:13 pm

Hey Becker. I agree and disagree. I can’t disagree, that Lugar is up against it. Maybe he’ll throw in the towel early.

Good to see a warrior like you over here.

Brian Hibbert
March 6, 2011 2:12 pm

Thanks Becker, this is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. I’d like to add that in order to move your state farther to the right, we have to run candidates in all races. Even in areas where they have NO chance of winning. If these candidates can get a few more Republican votes in the heavily blue areas, they can move the needle on state wide races. In inner city areas where the D gets 90% of the vote, if we can move our share from 10% to 15% instead, we can turn some of these blue… Read more »

Cold Warrior
March 6, 2011 2:14 pm

Great dispatch, mbecker. And, of course, The Precinct Project is here:

March 6, 2011 6:16 pm

I agree with everything except ODonnell of course, to me Mike Castle being denied entry to the Senate was well worth every dollar I sent. I may not always get my man or woman but every once in a while I still get left with a smile on my face.

March 7, 2011 7:13 am

The question will endure til the end of time as to which is better, the punt R or a D with in a Marx-labeled business suit. Actually, John McCain provided one answer, for had he won we not have the House back, there would be no Tea Party, and we would in all likelihood still have McCaincare, card check, immigration. I voted for McCain over my better instincts, but with two years hindsight am sort of glad he didn’t win. America has found it voice. I agree O’Donnell was a less than good candidate, but she was the Republicans of… Read more »