If Not Elected Chairman, Anuzis Should Go To State Parties & Build GOP Farm Team
Apologies for the long lapse between blog posts. The flu and work have been keeping me at bay.
I have not yet made a decision as to who to support for the RNC chairmanship, and I have not yet heard or met every candidate running. So it would be unfair for me to endorse anybody at this point. But I am intrigued with Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis.
This morning at the American Spectator's Newsmaker Breakfast at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, Anuzis made his case to be the party's top man, saying that he wants the GOP to be rebranded as the party that can "restore the American dream." Talking about his immigrant roots, Anuzis identified himself as a believer in the Newt Gingrich-Jack Kemp message of the "opportunity society."
The most interesting part of the conversation came up after being asked about his "losing" record as party chairman of the Great Lakes State and how that qualifies him to head the RNC. Anuzis responded agressively, saying that that means no party chair from a blue state should be qualified to run for the GOP chairmanship. He said that his background growing up in blue-collar suburbia among Reagan Democrats and Independents makes him especially qualified to be the next chairman because those are the voters that the we need to go after.
While I don't necessarily agree that past categorizations of voter identification will work in future election cycles, I'm impressed with Anuzis for a few reasons:
- While everybody realizes that the party needs to be rebranded, I like the direction he's going when it comes to the type of rebranding we need. I'm all about building "An Agenda of Equal Opportunity" that can battle the liberal movement's "Agenda of Equal Outcomes."
- Anuzis seems like someone willing to take risks. He's endorsed the RebuildTheParty.com platform and has had great state legislative recruitment success in Michigan, something that he could translate to a 435 District Strategy (something that Patrick has been plugging). He also talked a lot about outreach to African-Americans and going to their playing field: churches.
- Anuzis seems to get Web 2.0 tools. While I don't know whether or not he's interested in buildings communities vs. building lists (as Chip Saltsman mentioned), he has been using Twitter to communicate with conservatives. When asked about criticism of him concerning his use of Twitter to promote himself instead of the Michigan GOP, he rightfully said that people aren't interested in having a conversation with press releases from the Michigan GOP. People are interested in having conversations with personalities. Sure, he's using his Twitter account to promote his candidacy for the chairmanship; but he's also using it to build a community by being refreshingly honest and approachable in his Tweets. (By the way, I'll be shameless here. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @alaskan.)
I haven't been paying attention to who the front-runners are for the chairmanship and which candidates have how much support. But if Anuzis does not win, the new chairman should consider tapping Anuzis to be a liaison to the state parties and giving him a travel budget to visit all 50 states consistently. If the new chairman does not tap him, Anuzis should consider working with groups like Slatecard or building a new organization that can allow him to help rebuild state and local parties. Why?
- While Congressional leaders need to come up with their own agenda of equal opportunity, Anuzis could be a great at helping state legislators and state legislative candidates in each state coming up with state-based agendas of equal opportunity. Like Soren has mentioned before, the battles that need to be won are at the state level. Anuzis can use what he learned about recruiting in Michigan and help party leaders around the nation recruit for state legislative, city council and school board seats to build a strong GOP Farm Team.
- Anuzis' use and willingness to learn Web 2.0 tools could give him a platform to help state and local party leaders start building online communities instead of online lists. Patrick is correct that Twitter is only one small part of Web tools that we can use. Anuzis could be a bridge between the 50+ and 60+ generation of party leaders that have no clue about Web 2.0 tools and the under-40 activists that can help state and local parties reach the next level.
There are some state and local parties that are in shambles, and the next chairman of the RNC can't spend of all his time worrying about every party organization. But it would be wise for the next set of GOP leaders to help Saul Anuzis (or someone else) travel to and help rebuild party organizations in all 435 districts.