September 14, 2009

Michael Steele is facing the wrong way

What has Michael Steele been up to since his win as Chairman of the RNC? Apparently too much of the wrong things. AP News has a story about trouble brewing for House Democrats in 2010 (welcome to reality AP, late as usual). There's no reason to lend any credence to the article, especially since it truly tries to spin the reality. After explaining some of the challenges the Democrats face, it parrots Democrat spin ("But Van Hollen said voters will make their choices on the strength of the national economy and will reward Democrats for working aggressively to improve it.") and is even written seemingly as if it were a Democrat political planning document ("At least one Republican is considered extremely vulnerable: Joseph Cao of Louisiana").

The real story for conservatives is buried in the middle of the page, and while it doesn't mention Steele directly, there are some important factors to consider. Throwing out all of the spin, there's some meat to what the article says - starting with this;

Democrats have gotten off to a much faster start than Republicans in fundraising for 2010. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $10.2 million in the bank at the end of July, with debts of $5.3 million. The National Republican Congressional Committee had just $4 million in cash and owed $2.75 million.

With all of the Tea Party momentum, there's been a goldmine of opportunity for Republicans. In an environment where conservatives have actually started to protest, perhaps for the first time in recorded history, there has been ample opportunity to start raising cash. Being so far out of power, it should have been at LEAST an even money race, and that's without the lightning rods of discontent in Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Dodd and Frank. There's still time to recover, but a lot of time has now been squandered. I honestly couldn't tell you what Steele has been up to on a day to day basis, but I know this - winning costs money. Money is there if you position the GOP alignment with discontent. Instead of going on the talk show circuit or arguing with Rush Limbaugh, Steele should have been focusing on raising cash. Steele is facing the wrong way.

The formula is pretty simple:

(1) raise cash early so you don't need to while you are fighting the election war
(2) recruit and vet quality candidates early on
(3) align the message
(4) practice, practice, practice
(5) start the voter outreach process and run hard
(6) January 1, 2010 arrives.

Steele looks as if he left at least step 1 alone for too long. That will have a cascade effect on the election. This is a golden opportunity not only for cash but for the GOP to win back control of at least the House. They need about 40 seats to do so. Failure to act on step 1 will have a ripple effect on everything else. Where were the quality candidates (Step 2) speaking about better government (Step 3) at the 9/12 rallies (Step 5)?
The article points out some of the opportunity being missed;

Democrats must defend as many as 60 marginal seats next year, as opposed to about 40 for Republicans. Among those, about 27 Democratic and just 13 Republican seats are seen as especially ripe for a party switch.

...most of the closest races involve Democrats who rode the Obama tide in 2008.

Indeed, the "cap and trade" bill that narrowly passed the House last spring is creating headaches for several Democrats. The legislation, which would cap carbon emissions and tax industries that exceed the cap as a way to reduce global warming, is largely unpopular in areas of the country where jobs rely on oil, gas or coal production.

One Democrat most affected is New Mexico Democrat Harry Teague. His district, which McCain carried last year, is one of the largest oil and gas producing areas in the country, and Teague has faced angry crowds back home ever since voting yes.
Teague will face Republican Steve Pearce, who held the seat for three terms before giving it up to run unsuccessfully for the Senate last year.

Without Obama on the ticket, a lower predicted black turnout in 2010 could also affect Democrats in several tight races in the South. These include Reps. Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith of Alabama, Travis Childers of Mississippi, and Tom Perriello of Virginia, who won by just 745 votes last year in a district that is 24 percent black.

Talk about squandering opportunity!!! I have no personal quarrel with Michael Steele. He seemed like a reasonable candidate, but it's turning out that he doesn't seem to be nearly proactive or aggressive enough, or at the very least, his priorities with respect to his role are way off base.

The GOP is meant to be the conservative voice of America. Steele has seemingly had the RNC sitting on the sidelines during all of this resistance to the health care bill and cap & trade bill. Maybe there's been a bunch of behind the scenes action that no one outside the RNC sees. But if the money is any indication things could be problematic.

It would certainly be interesting if the grassroots conservatives decided to start raising their own money and doling it out as 527 operations, running advertisements in support of the right candidates. It might bring the grassroots views directly to the candidates, cutting out the middlemen. It might just create a more responsive political class.

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