TCR believes all politics is local and a party is built from the ground up. So is the recent GOP sweep statewide in Texas just a mirage of GOP dominance? The answer is maybe. Admittedly, it was a bad year nationally for the GOP and we did win statewide, but peeling back the veneer we see why we won. Governor Perry had 4 opponents and outspent the Democratic candidate at least 6-1 and got 39%, 9% more than Chris Bell.
As for the other statewide candidates, they outspent their low profile opponents at least 100-1 and won with an average of 54%. TCR wonders what would have happened if the Democrats ran Bill White for governor and other Democrats who actually had a campaign. We might have survived, but maybe not at the top.
It's clear we had a year with setbacks, the Dallas County massacre (a loss of all county-wide races), a loss of six State Representative seats statewide, a near loss of down ballot races in Harris County (winning 51-49 against no-name opponents without real campaigns is not impressive). So it's clear the challenge is now there.
And the good news, it has been recognized by key GOP elected officials like Steve Radack (Harris County Commissioner), Paul Bettencourt (Harris County Tax Assessor), and Judge Ted Poe (Congressman Texas Dist. 2). TCR suggests a task force with a cross section of party activists, leaders, and elected officials to explore the problem and recommend solutions. One thing is clear, we are more like the nation than we might like. We are just a little behind and we need to get rid of the cheerleaders in our party (and substitute them with the workers) as we can no longer coast or the Dallas disease will spread rapidly. It's time to get back to our conservative principles and stick with them, all the rest is commentary.
A Defeat For Republicanism, Not Conservatism
While this national election was a substantial setback, it was more a defeat for the GOP than conservatives and certainly not a victory for the left-wing Democratic party. Just what did they run on? Their platform, "A New Direction for America", listed such ideas as raising the minimum wage, negotiating prescription drugs and making college tuition tax deductible and yes, fiscal discipline (Clinton was last President to "balance" the budget). Doesn't sound too liberal, does it?
Democrats running as conservatives won in the Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Montana Senate races and in numerous Democratic House victories in North Carolina, Indiana and Arizona.
Conservative ballot initiatives were successful on such issues as ending affirmative action in Michigan, defeating medical marijuana in Nevada, English only in Arizona, defeating a massive tax increase on oil companies in California and victory on same sex marriages in many states. Conservative ideas are still popular. So what went wrong? In simple terms, the GOP abandoned grassroots conservatives and many in turn returned the favor.
Remember in 1994, the GOP promised to end big government and end the scandals in D.C. and now we have come full circle.
Let's review the extent of national carnage in the House, where at this point we have lost 28 seats and gained no Democratic seats. How did we lose them? Thanks to Robert Novak and www.humanevents.com:
- Scandal - 9 losses including Sekula-Gibbs to Lampson in Texas 22. We had corruption, Abramoff's influence peddling, wife beating, infidelity and cyber sex with former House pages.
- Iraq Fatigue - 7 losses in Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky and 2 in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire (also caught off guard here).
- Caught Off Guard - 3 losses in races where all the signs were there and our candidates didn't work hard enough in Arizona, Kansas and Minnesota.
- Ideology - The moderate GOP in the Northeast was devastated in New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Florida and the jury is still out on races in Washington (Reichert) and Connecticut (Simmons).
The Senate with a loss of six can be divided this way:
Now What Should The GOP Do?
- Scandal - DeWine (Ohio), Burns (Montana).
- Iraq Fatigue - Allen (Virginia), also see caught off guard.
- Caught Off Guard - Allen (Virginia).
- Ideology - Santorum (Pennsylvania), Talent (Missouri).
- Bush Fatigue - Chafee (Rhode Island).
Richard Engle, President of the National Federations of Republican Assembly (www.gopwing.com) presents nine ideas worth thinking about.
- Adjust the position on Iraq. The goal of the "war" is not specific and we can't win what we can't define.
- Fire the RNC Chair.
- Give the Dems enough rope to hang themselves.
- Tell the Party officials to stay out of the nomination process and put everything into winning in the general election.
- Stand on the platform, and let the party platform be designed by the grassroots.
- Regroup. Honestly, we lost by very little and can win it back with just a bit of adjustment. This election defines the low point. Concentrate on winning those back with serious honest conservative candidates.
- Send Denny packing.
- Don't crown a nominee for President.
- The Republican Party is its voters. It is to be defined by them and not by their servants. The elected officials who are Republican are not the party. The party officers are not the party.
COMING ON THE CONNECTION - (Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 5 pm) to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue, Election post mortem with former state GOP Chair Tom Pauken and Democratic State Representative Garnet Coleman.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.