Fight Everywhere: Scott Brown for Massachusetts

Worcester Opening 052 by State Senator Scott Brown.

In the past 48 hours, the blogosphere has awakened to the cause of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. There hasn't been any recent public polling, but my sense is that a poll of likely voters would show Scott Brown within single digits of Martha Coakley, with those most likely to vote opting strongly for Brown. Perhaps the lack of polling betrays the conventional wisdom that Coakley would win in a rout, but maybe one of the more forward-looking public pollsters like Rasmussen or PPP will prove me wrong and poll this thing. 

The case for a Brown upset can be summed up as follows: A January 19th special election would likely skew the turnout universe more Republican than it ever would be in the Bay State. The race has received comparably little attention, so turnout is likely to be low, and a minor surge in Republican turnout could go a long way. 

Then there's the enthusiasm gap: we're already seeing Republicans far more likely to vote in 2010, even beyond the waning of the Obama-only 2008 young voter base. Republican enthusiasm is white hot right now, possibly hotter than it will be in November 2010, because of health care. 

And here's where the mammoth significance of playing in MA-SEN comes into the discussion: if Brown wins, Obamacare is dead. 60 becomes 59. Because Democrats will have lost the Liberal Lion's seat, whose photo stands in the Democratic Cloakroom with the words "Let's get this done." Any chance we have to take out the Obamacare abomination, however remote, is a fight worth fighting. The Senate is currently scheduled to come back into session on January 19th, the day of the Massachusetts special election. Harry Reid could move this up if it looked like Brown could win, but he'd have to get a conference done, pass it through the House, and then get it through the Senate. Not likely. And not before Republicans would scream bloody murder. 

Then there is a bit of recent electoral history. It's true that Massachusetts has deserved the mantle of the most Democratic state in its recent history. But that Democratic loyalty is not quite as strong as it was. Massachusetts is now within two points of California in Presidential partisanship, handing Obama a 26-point win to California's 24 points. In California, a larger and more diverse state, we are talking about a possibly competitive Senate race with a recent history of electing Republican governors. Let's also remember that Massachusetts Democrats are not Obama Democrats. Despite the blessing of Kennedy and Kerry, Obama lost the state by 10 points on Super Tuesday. In October 2007, Republican Jim Ogonowski came within 6 points of beating Niki Tsongas in the MA-5 special, and that was in a bad political climate for Republicans. And a final point that bears remembering: Massachusetts has a Cook PVI of D+12. In a strange low-turnout election scheduled during the winter months, Joseph Cao won LA-2 in a D+25 district. Martha Coakley may not be stashing cash in the freezer, but weird things happen in special elections (as NY-23 also showed us). And an extra, final point: in a sleepy, low-turnout special election in CA-10, that no one believed Republican David Harmer could win and which attracted minimal support from national Republicans and the blogosphere as everyone was focused on Doug Hoffman, we came within 10 points. The Cook PVI rating of that district was D+11. That could have been a lot closer with extra resources and political capital spent. 

All in all, taking a calculated risk in MA-SEN is worth it. Nobody doubts this is an uphill fight, but I don't want to be the guy who decided not to take a stand only to find out that we lost by 6 on election night when everyone assumed the Democrat would win running away and didn't fight. 

In full disclosure, my company provides some online services to the Brown campaign, but I'm not privy to their decision making process nor did I consult them about this post. I do know that people are uncharacteristically fired up about this race and that enthusiasm has followed a hockey stick trajectory in the last 48 hours. It's not out of the question that Brown could raise another half a million dollars online between now and election day, with a moneybomb planned for January 11th. But it's up to us to get the job done.

The 10th Amendment & Health Care

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

That is the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. With the debate on health care, cap and trade, and TARP/Stimulus, the 10th Amendment has become more relevant.

The healthcare bill in congress is not compliant with the 10th Amendment. It forces every citizen in the country to purchase a private product (health insurance) as a condition of citizenship. This type of top-down, Washington-based solution is not good for the country.

Ben Franklin said that in the system the Framers designed, the States would be the “incubators” of democracy. The design was for the States to come up with solutions, in competition with each other. The “competition” would make the country stronger. The genius is in designing a system that allows each state to compete against each other with ideas and solutions.

Dirigo-Health is a great example of this competition in action. Maine came up with a “solution” to get more people insured and lower costs. By any measure, Dirigo-Health failed. Other states with similar health care problems could learn by Maine’s experience and not duplicate our failure. Only Maine had to go through the cost and expense and the rest of the states got the benefit of the experience. The country is stronger as a result.

Texas was one of the first states to offer tax incentives for film production. People in the neighboring states of Louisiana and New Mexico saw that these incentives were creating jobs and investment in Texas, and not in their states. New Mexico and Louisiana developed their own tax incentives, and created educational programs to lure film production in to their states. This iterative process, driven by competition, makes each state more competitive. The competition makes companies who do business there stronger. The result is a stronger country.

The 10th amendment matters. States competing to solve problems is good for the country. The Federal Government needs to stop forcing solutions from Washington, and get back to letting the States compete for the best ideas.

----

Matt Jacobson is a Republican candidate for Governor of Maine.  He currently serves as President and CEO of Maine & Company, a private business attraction company which aims to create jobs in the state of Maine.

CPAC 2010: The GOProud Controversy

A couple weeks ago, the American Family Association protested CPAC's inclusion of GOProud - a gay conservative group - as a CPAC 2010 sponsor.  They may say they don't hate homosexuals, but the AFA rhetoric makes it pretty clear that they don't want gay people around.

A spokesman for the American Family Association says a Republican homosexual activist group doesn't belong at a popular conservative political conference in February. ... "The bottom line is that homosexuality is not a conservative value," Fischer states emphatically.

Unsurprisingly, WorldNetDaily is leaping to participate in the bigotry, saying that "A viral alarm [is] spreading among conservatives that the American Conservative Union is accepting homosexual sponsorship for its annual Conservative Political Action Conference..." and adding "Campaign launched to reject support from homosexuals".  AFA Action is demanding other conservative organizations oppose GOProud participation at CPAC, saying "groups that promote the normalization of homosexual behavior should be resisted without reserve or compromise by any genuinely conservative organization."

Know how you can tell this is more about bigotry against gays themselves than principled opposition to any support for gay marriage?

  • Dick Cheney is pro-gay marriage and opposed to federal marriage amendment....just like GOProud.  Go try to find an example of AFA or WorldNetDaily "resist[ing] without reserve or compromise" when he spoke at CPAC.  You can't.
  • Ron Paul is opposed to a federal marriage amendment (he voted against DoMA) or a Constitutional ban on gay marriage...just like GOProud.  Go try to find an example of AFA or WorldNetDaily "resist[ing] without reserve or compromise" when he spoke at CPAC.  You can't.
  • The Libertarian Party opposes government restrictions prohibiting gay marriage (they opposed DoMA and support "marriage equality").  Go try to find an example of AFA or WorldNetDaily "resist[ing] without reserve or compromise" when the LP co-sponsored CPAC.  You can't.
  • Google supports gay marriage (they opposed Proposition 8 in 2008).  Go try to find an example of AFA or WorldNetDaily "resist[ing] without reserve or compromise" when the Google co-sponsored CPAC.  You can't.
  • UPDATE: The Log Cabin Republicans, who support gay marriage, sponsored CPAC in 2005. Go try to find an example of AFA or WorldNetDaily "resist[ing] without reserve or compromise" when the the Log Cabin Republicans co-sponsored CPAC.  You can't.

American Family Association and WorldNetDaily are not defending traditional marriage or conservative principles. They're just being bigots.

I've made my case regarding gay marriage in the past, and I'll line up with Ed Morrissey of Hot Air on this story.  Commending CPAC's courage in accepting and defending GOProud's co-sponsorship, Morrissey writes that "GOProud’s priorities are fundamentally in line with [our key principles].  We should not allow a purity campaign to push away natural allies on the fiscal crisis that grips our country, and the opportunity we have to correct it in 2010."

I hope a CPAC speaker will address this matter and express support for GOProud...or even make the case for gay marriage.  I'm looking at you, Andrew Breitbart. Or perhaps it's time to start a "Draft Dick Cheney to talk about Gay Marriage at CPAC" campaign.

Should GOProud and CPAC face more of this during CPAC 2010, I hope that CPAC attendees, whatever their position on the gay marriage issue itself, will stand against the kind of bigotry that WorldNetDaily and American Family Association are peddling.

Replacing the "old-school Republican mandate" with Whole Foods and Tea Party values

Lately, I'm frequently asked by Republican campaigns, party executives, consultants and think-tank leaders about how to connect better with Tea Party or libertarian voters.

Partying with Tea Party partiers

It's for good reason that Republican operatives want to connect with Tea Partiers.  After all, Rasmussen suggests that a generic Tea Party candidate is more popular than more traditional Republican candidates.

"Republican leaders should be embarrassed," notes conservative icon Richard Viguerie. "Instead, the Republican establishment disdains this populist uprising. Rather than embracing this genuine movement, establishment politicians and consultants are calculating how to co-opt, sideline, or even defeat the newest phenomenon in politics: tea partiers."

GOP leaders are now observing what conservative movement people have known for some time.

"The media are paying attention now," observes conservative movement writer Robert Stacy McCain. "They have no choice. Over the past nine months, hundreds of thousands of citizens have answered the Tea Party movement's call to direct involvement in politics. Their activism has ignited the spark that now threatens to incinerate the agenda of Hope and Change that once seemed impervious to conservative opposition."

The recent NY CD-23 race showed two things.  The Tea Party movement doesn't seem quite organized enough (yet) to actually win a major race, but we are clearly organized enough to knock out an establishment Republican candidate. 

The Crist-Rubio senatorial primary in Florida will probably serve as the major test between these two factions.  Alternately, one could look at the Alabama gubernatorial race  to see how the chips will fall when a much broader range of GOP candidates jump into the fray.

This Tea Party veteran would like to offer some quick advice to those trying to obtain the support of the Tea Party crowd:

The Brown Raid, 2010: Target-Massachusetts!

In early 1942, the United States did something which was incredibly audacious and led to the loss of every aircraft sent on the mission.

Army B-25 (Doolittle Raid).jpg

They sent B-25 bombers to bomb Japan.

While the raid failed to inflict material damage to the enemy war effort, it greatly disrupted their strategic approach to the war and their use of available resources. 

The Republican Party and conservative activists have had many recent successes. Now it's  time now to take the battle to the "home island" of the Democratic Party.

It's time to play to win the 2010 MA Senate special election to replace Ted Kennedy. We need to rally behind Scott Brown

Hey, I know the conventional wisdom is this will be a coronation for Martha Coakley and we'd best not throw money into the wind. Jeez, this is even what RedState is posting. 

Coakley is the prohibitive favorite to win the January 19th special general election in this knee-jerk Democratic state.

And that's precisely why suddenly jumping in makes so much sense. 

The Democrats think this one is already won. They aren't expecting a fight. They are expecting something akin to the CA 10 special, where the game but underfunded Republican quietly lost by 10 points,

So there's a huge element of surprise.

There's really not enough time (the election is January 19) to spend a whole lot of money; especially when the Commonwealth is really not that large. (about 80% of the voters are in the Boston TV market; which is cheaper than San Francisco or Philadelphia).

So guess what, we could squander  a couple of million dollars and achieve little. But the "movement" seems hell bent on throwing a lot more than that trying to oust Barbara Boxer in the nation's most expensive campaign state. Well I think doing this makes more sense.

Why?  Huge risk, but even greater potential reward.

What would the impact to our party have been of losing the Senate seat held by Barry Goldwater or Bob Dole? Imagine the Democrats losing Ted Kennedy's seat?

The reaction across the nation would be pretty much like this. just two years earlier!A buddhist monk standing against a background of snow capped mountains while a tsunami is charging over them.

Even a highly competitive--albeit unssuccesful-- election night would inflict huge psychological damage on the Democrats. If Ted Kennedy's old senate seat was in jeopardy, why should a Blue Dog risk political oblivion when it's a lot less painful to just walk away? What's the value of potentially accelerating a couple of dozen Democratic house vacancies? A lot less than the cash which the party can readily replenish I say.

The Doolittle Raid told the Japanese there was no safe refuge from the American military. The Brown Raid into the heart of liberal Massachusetts sends the same message to the Democrats.

And if it fails, well, we weren't supposed to win anyway and we can raise more money. It's early in the cycle. 

As for the "we can't win in MA" argument; well. folks it's a special election. And in the horrendous political environment of 2007 the GOP came within a few thousand votes of winning the 5th District; losing to the widow of local icon Paul Tsongas. 

RedMassGroup has an excellent analysis of the 2009 senate primary and the 2007 5th District special; which are virtually parallel races.    

In the 2007 MA-5 special the Democrat primary had 55,517 votes cast versus 13,493 in the Republican primary for a 4.11 to 1 ratio of ballots cast.  In the 2009 US Senate race the Democrat primary had 664,795 votes cast versus 162,706 in the Republican primary for a 4.08 to 1 ratio of ballots cast.  Those numbers are similar....

Ultimately Niki Tsongas defeated Jim Ogonowski 51% to 45%.  Her margin of victory was slightly smaller than polling indicated.

The difference--well I think Scott Brown is a better candidate than Jim Ogoronski and the political environment is a hundred times better for Republicans.

The sad parallel is the GOP failed to properly fund the 2007 race, and we'll probably decide not to go all in on this one too. Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Can this be done? After all, MA did vote for Obama by over 20 points. But he won going away in NJ, too, and the Democratic incumbent this November lost by 5 points on the "normal" election day; let alone dealing with the turnout vagaries of a special election held in mid-January where a small cohort of highly motivated voters can be decisive.

Back in September I suggested that there were enough non-liberal voters across suburban and exurban eastern Massachusetts to win a Senate special. I stand by my reasoning.

 In the 2002 election almost 80% of the the total vote in the Commonwealth was cast in the Boston media market and Romney won by more than his statewide plurality here; Democrat Shannon O' Brien actually carried the areas in the Providence, Springfield and Albany TV markets.  And the critical area was not the close-in urbanized area. O'Brien won the city and the close-in's by a 209,000 to 134,000 margin. But in the rest of Middlesex and Norfolk counties, and in Essex and Plymouth counties...Romney amassed a 576, 000 to 414,000 margin.  In the reaches beyond I-495 (metro Worcester and Cape Cod) Romney won  by 202,000 to 144,000.

Well, what's changed? Scott Brown still represents part of the I-495 belt. (called the "Off-ramp region" by one local scholar). Deval Patrick is still painfully unpopular, and Obama, Reid and Pelosi are less popular even in the Northeast than they were then.

So, folks, to my mind the question is not why do we go after the Ted Kennedy senate seat?

To paraphrase Ted's late brother Bobby, I see an election we can win and ask;:  Why Not?! 

Self-Funders: The Next Front in the War on the GOP Establishment

The brewing conservative war on the Republican establishment has gotten a lot of ink lately, and we can only expect more of it with the rise and rise of Marco Rubio. 

The main front in this war is ideological: party leaders in Washington supporting moderates when a conservative can win. See: Crist vs. Rubio or Hoffman vs. Scozzafava.
 
But there's another front in this war that deserves just as much if not more attention: the tendency of gazillionaire self-funders to parachute into races with minimal political experience and a long list of liabilities, and get taken seriously by D.C. and local elites solely because they can plop down tens of millions of dollars on TV ads and a feeding trough of political consultants. 
 
Last year's Rebuild the Party platform which I co-wrote, and which was endorsed by a number of people in the political community including RNC Chairman Michael Steele, had this to say about the pervasive "money-first" culture of our campaigns: 

This means kick starting a generational transition to the new fundraising model. Right now, we cannot compete with the Democrats' scalable online fundraising machine and if this is not corrected our party will face a long-term financial deficit. A big part of this will be growing a millions-strong network of supporters and giving them something to rally around. Moreover, our candidate recruitment should focus less on a candidate's ability to collect $2,300 checks or to self-fund than on the strength of their message -- which will ultimately attract more small and high dollar donors online and off. Traditional fundraising is still important, but in modern campaigns, it's more like startup venture capital money than a long-term cash cow. 

In February, when the GOP was still in a fetal position after the drubbing they received at the hands of Obama's half-billion dollar online juggernaut, I expanded on this point: 


The lesson here is that fundraising is not an independent variable. Fundraising is a dependent variable and the independent variable is the message. There does not exist an innate ability to fundraise independent of a strong message -- unless the candidate is fabulously wealthy and can self-fund. And in cases where there might be, all the fundraising in the world cannot overcome a poor message. If a candidate is wealthy or has rich friends, but has no message, the GOP should run -- not walk -- away from that candidate.
My own experiences in the trenches this year suggest that establishment Republicans still haven't learned their lesson. They're still addicted to the size of a candidate's personal checkbook or overhyped end-of-quarter stories, and too often neglect building a grassroots organization or developing a strong, early, and authentic connection between the candidate direct to voters. 
 
Self-funders are particulary popular among money-addled political insiders for a few key reasons. First, their personal money takes the need for much party money off the table, or so it's thought. Second, they can afford to pay consultants, and lots of them, and for eye-popping amounts. Third, they will often refill the coffers of local parties in a wink and nod exchange for much-needed endorsements. 
 
But the record of self-funders in American politics is notoriously poor. In California alone, about a half dozen of them have spectacularly crashed on the rocks, from the campaign that gave us Arianna Huffington in 1994 to Al Checchi's $40 million gubernatorial campaign in 1998, Jane Harman's effort in the same primary, and Steve Westly's losing 2006 campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor. 
 
This year, Jon Corzine was unable to put away Chris Christie with his vast personal fortune, ending one of the few self-funding success stories in American politics. And Michael Bloomberg spent $102 million in one city to eeke out a five point victory against bland party apparatchik Bill Thompson. The size of Bloomberg's bank account in reaching for a third term (for which term limits were repealed) was cited as a factor in the last minute closing of the race. 
 
At the federal level, ask Senator Pete Coors how well self-funding works. Or President Mitt Romney. 
 
It's not just that these candidates were running unwinnable races. Often they were way ahead after an early barrage of advertising. But they blew it, despite their money. 
 
The dollar signs dancing around in consultants' heads don't make up for the fact that most self-funders tend to be subpar candidates for important structural reasons. First, they're political dilettantes unfamiliar with the rigors of elected politics. They make rookie mistakes. They assume their records before their recent entries into politics aren't relevant or won't be scrutinized. They have less political acumen or knowledge than many of the people I follow on Twitter, or even most of them. 
 
And that's just when they start running. Once they do, they run overkill levels of TV, and often resort to slashing negative ads to dislodge better known competitors, which drives their own negatives up. (This was particularly true of the famous Checchi-Harman "murder-suicide" in 1998, opening the path for the underfunded Gray Davis to squeak through in the last two weeks.) The gaudiness of the campaign operation tends to infect media coverage late in the game, and that's when self-funders really get worked over by the traditional press corps, which tends to counter-balance the perceived buying of the election with uniquely skeptical coverage when voters are actually paying attention. And as any student of campaigns will tell you, earned media is far, far more valuable than paid media, even at inflated levels of spending. 
 
From an ideological perspective, self-funders are political chameleons. Since they're somewhat politically attuned, they're likely to have been a donor, but like most big donors, they're pragmatists who've played both sides. And it's not uncommon for these rich candidates to have made donations to fashionable lefty social crusades. The country-clubbers who have supported Focus on the Family or the National Rifle Association with their philanthrophic dollars are few and far between.
 
For conservatives, this trend is just as troubling as national party leaders seeking out moderates in states where a conservative can win. While we welcome recent converts, we always have a right to ask whether it's for the right reasons. Rich candidates tend to be disproportionately moderate themselves, and aren't as accountable to the conservative movement because they don't need our dollars.
 
And there's another element here that shouldn't be tolerated: corruption. To put it indelicately, when a mega-self-funder gets in, people get bought. Local parties are capitalized to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars with endorsements magically appearing shortly thereafter. People who couldn't afford to take salaries before can now take salaries. Others get put on the campaign payroll. Elected officials who've fought hard and risen through the ranks suddenly become fans of political "outsiders", leaving their own integrity and intellectual honesty open to question.  
 
In any system where money rules, conservatives lose. When endorsements and political support are rooted in money, not principle, that's just as great an insult as choosing a moderate over a conservative in a red state on electability grounds. This is not a matter of being a campaign finance zealot as it of avoiding bad and unreliable candidates who tend to lose at alarming rates. 
 
To be clear, I don't think everyone who's put in a dime of their own money to a race is the bad guy. We would have been much better off in NY-23 had we chosen that guy. There are many very good local businesspeople running for Congress who will put in some seed money to get started, but ultimately rely on a strong network of donors to get them over the top. The problem is those who pledge to spend at astronomical rates so they can defy the political laws of gravity, and in turn fool (or buy off) the political class who wrongly believe that lots of money can overcome an unknown candidate with a bad message. 

 

Testimony on Military Voting Rights to the RNC

(we would like to thank Ed Fitzmaurice for posting his testimony from today's meeting to the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee)

Jessie Jane Duff, and Roman Buhler and I gave this testimony today to the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee. 

 

We wish to convey our thanks to the Committee for allowing us to testify on behalf of “Military Voting Rights USA.”

The men and women who serve in our armed forces appreciate the efforts that the Republican National Committee, its Members, and State Parties around the nation have made on behalf of military voters.

We appreciate the adoption by the 2008 Republican Convention of RNC Rule 15(c)7 that includes specific consideration of the rights of military voters to participate in the Presidential selection process.

We look forward in 2011 and 2012 to further changes in state and national party Rules that will guarantee the rights of military voters to participate in the Republican Presidential selection process.

We appreciate the support of Republican Members of Congress like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of CA who led the fight for an express mail system that could get overseas military ballots home in 4 days, not the three weeks currently required.

We are disappointed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose, instead, to cater to the postal unions and give the postal service a monopoly on delivery of overseas military ballots that will require 1 week delivery instead of the 4 day delivery that open competition among all express mail providers could have achieved.  We are disappointed that Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi put the interests of unions ahead of military voters which will result in disenfranchising, for nearly half of the last week of the election, of soldiers who are risking their lives for our nation overseas

We mention these issues because the Republican Party has the opportunity to go into the 2010 and 2012 elections as the undisputed champion of military voting rights.

Your job, as Members of the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee is to come to agreement or at least a near consensus on how to improve the Presidential selection calendar.

In our view one key goal of your work should be to ensure that as many Republican voters, in as many states as possible have a meaningful role in that process.

We would give the same advice to Democrats with regard to their party, if asked.

We believe that encouraging participation by as many of each party's voters in that party's presidential selection process as possible is good for that party and good for the nation.

We believe that the more of a party's voters, including military voters, who participate, the more likely it is that the party's candidate will be the one who will best reflect that party's principles and will be the candidate best able to present them most persuasively to the voters necessary for victory.

That is why your work is so important.

We suggest that your first principle should be, "Do no harm."

Each state now makes its own decision about whether to hold a primary or a caucus to select Presidential delegates and bind their Presidential preference at the Convention.

While we favor primaries over caucuses because primaries encourage participation by military voters, our goal today is not to urge you to favor primaries over caucuses.

Our goal today is to urge you not to force states, against their will, to replace their primaries with caucuses.

How might this happen?

If you adopt a detailed mandatory primary calendar that requires each state to hold its primary in a narrow time window, there is the significant possibility that a state's legislature, which may be controlled by Democrats, will not cooperate.

If a state's legislature will not schedule a government-funded primary on a date acceptable to the RNC, a state would have three choices.

The first option:

Fund the primary itself, or with the financial assistance of the RNC.

Republicans generally oppose unfunded federal mandates as simply tax increases imposed from Washington.  But you may determine that it is not in the best use of your RNC donor's resources to divert funds from candidate support and get-out-the-vote efforts to funding a primary.

The second option:

Hold the primary on the legislature-scheduled but non-RNC sanctioned date and suffer the loss of one-half of the state's delegates.

We understand your Committee does not have the authority to alter this penalty. Imposing it effectively disenfranchises half of the state's Republican voters.

We expect that few states would willingly choose this option.

The third option:

Replace the state's primary with a caucus.  This is the option that could most directly disenfranchise overseas military voters and other voters whose personal work, family, or health situation makes it impossible to participate in a caucus.

We encourage states to look for ways, perhaps via absentee or proxy voting, to make future caucuses accessible to overseas military voters, and others in a similarly disadvantaged situation.   But Republican caucuses as they are now held do not yet have those features.

We believe that for 2012 the most important way to assure that military voters can participate fully in the Presidential selection process is to ensure that states who want to hold a primary are not discouraged from doing so by RNC rules.

That is why it is so important that RNC Rules not force states against their will to replace their primary with a caucus.

The Republican National Committee is an extraordinary institution.  It has a vital role in promoting limited government and individual freedom.

But any group of 168 leaders, no matter how wise, should think carefully before taking an action that could lead to disenfranchising millions of Republican voters and overriding the views of thousands of local state party leaders in states across the nation.

The Republican Party believes in limited government.  The Republican Party believes in empowering as many Republican voters as possible.  The Republican Party believes that political power should come from the bottom up not from the top down.

If you keep these principles in mind when you make your recommendations to the RNC we are confident you will do an outstanding job.

Thank you for allowing us to testify.

Submitted by Ed Fitzmaurice, Jessie Jane Duff, and Roman Buhler

The Teapublican Moment

Why are we so shocked that a generic conservative third party called the "Tea Party" would come out ahead of the Republican Party in a poll?

The notion that there are lots of people on the right who consider themselves conservatives first and Republicans second is not new (though a national reporter once e-mailed me professing shock at hearing someone say this for the first time). What is different this time is that the tea parties lend some modicum of organization to the right's rabblerousing opposition, and the D.C. mandarins are busy trying to figure out if this power can be wielded electorally and whether that helps or hurts Republicans.

Rasmussen's question actually explains a lot. Like the fact that the national GOP is poised to pick up a bunch of seats while their numbers remain in the toilet.

Depending on the poll, approval of Congressional Republicans (and their leaders) is in the high teens or low twenties, close to the GOP number in today's survey. In the progressive blogosphere, this is the most common talking point against the notion that Republicans might win in 2010.

Though a curiosity, Congressional GOP approval is actually irrelevant to next year's election results. That's because a big chunk of the disapproval comes from the "Tea Party" that thinks the GOP is not doing enough fast enough. Combined, the Teapublicans get 41 percent of the vote to the Democrats' 36 percent. If I'm solely concerned with electoral strategy, I want people to be highly motivated to vote, because turnout is everything in a midterm. And the more Tea'd off these voters are, the better for Republicans. The good news for Democrats is that a mythical right-wing splinter party splits the base down the middle. The bad news is that they still vote Republican in a two-way, and the Tea Partiers are singlehandedly driving a massive enthusiasm gap over the left that renders a Republican victory even more likely. As we saw in 2006 and 2008, enthusiasm gaps matter.

The prevalence of the Tea Party movement does hold a cautionary note for the GOP -- if they win. The danger is that Republicans will interpret a victory as a sign that all is well in the party, and that they can go back to their old ways pre-2008. In other words, they'll confuse a Teapublican victory for an old-school Republican mandate.

However, the reason that Republicans are now at the mercy of the tea parties to drive their GOTV is because they drove spending through the roof (at least in pre-Obama terms) and agreed to the bailouts. The protests were as much a reaction to Republicans selling out as they were to the incipient Obama administration, though the passage of time has shifted the focus to the present Administration. The notion that the Tea Party  -- of all people -- will be unenthused about voting in November 2010 is wishful thinking, particularly when a clear opportunity exists to do damage to the left. The question is whether they'll abide the same Republican Party that set the bailouts in motion to begin with -- after the election.

Right now, the fact that the Tea Party is willing to hate on the GOP Congressional leadership but ultimately be their most enthusiastic foot soldiers is testament to the fact of the Republican Party's powerlessness on Capitol Hill. The party may suck, the reasoning goes, but that's irrelevant now because it can't actually shape policy. There is only one question in this election, and that is whether Congress can put the breaks on the left's unfettered rule. And if the GOP gets some measure of influence back, will it change?

Interview with Tom Campbell, CA-GOV candidate

I spoke with Tom Campbell for over 45 minutes on a range of topics, and I’ve split my posts on that discussion into two posts, one here and one over at QandO. Here at The Next Right, I’m going to cover new media, elections, and the politics of enacting fiscal-conservative governance for a state like California. Over at QandO the topics have more to do with policy.

Tom Campbell isn’t your typical candidate.

Pitted against two Republican candidates with far less experience but much greater personal wealth, he’s opted to reach out directly to voters with new media, doing substantial blogging himself and even personally answering hundreds of questions about the gritty details of policy in the comment sections of his campaign website.

Going against the grain, he’s pushed to be far more specific about necessary painful budget cuts than his fellow Republicans. Still he appeals to demographics that have tilted Democrat – Northern Californians and young people – giving him a polling advantage over his fellow Republicans in a general election matchup.

Campbell isn’t some upstart: he has extensive experience in politics and government, having been elected to Congress five times starting in the late ’80s and having ran against Dianne Feinstein in 2000. He seems to be a contender in the race. So I was interested to hear his take on how things have changed and how he might translate electoral victory into governing power.

Palin 2012 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sarah Palin

If the price of SNL whacking Obama like this:

...are hit jobs on Palin like this...

...then I like our chances for 2010 and 2012.

The 2010 elections are going to be a referendum on the Obama presidency, not Sarah Palin's book tour. As far as 2012 goes: I've always loved Sarah Palin and still do. I hope she rakes in millions of dollars with her book sales and speaking fees. But she has never won a single vote in any GOP primary and, if Mike Huckabee runs, she probably never will.

I'm sure she'll show up at a ton of the 2012 cattle calls, but that does convince me she is in it to win it. Instead she'll be a constant lightning rod ... cat nip for the Palin-haters at The Atlantic and MSNBC. So if beating up on Sarah allows the Jon Stewart's and SNL's to take some honest shots on Obama every once in a while, then I hope Palinmania never dies.

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