Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Republican Disaster -- or Great Opportunity?

I was on BlogTalkRadio Thursday evening with Eric Dondero (host) and Murray Sabrin (Republican primary candidate for NJ U.S. Senate). The broadcast is avaiable (on podcast) at I urge you to listen (only partly because I'm on it and you get to hear my Rochester, NY accent) but mainly because Eric and I launched something you haven't heard recently: a ferocious defense of the Iraq War (and John McCain's position on it). Would love to hear your thoughts at On the show I called attention to the web sites of Melissa Hart, Toni Gilhooley, Michael Livingston, Marina Kats, and Tom Manion. Tom is a former Marine colonel. Sadly, his son Travis was killed in action in Iraq. Say a prayer for Tom and his son.


Please take a few minutes to visit the web sites of these wonderful candidates -- and offer them whatever support you can provide. Thanks

Media, candidates, activists, and others: Please feel free to post, reprint, forward, or discuss this piece. Candidates: I hope you'll establish a link on your own web site and tell your visitors that I'll be writing regularly about your campaign. The url for this blog is: Eventually, our combined efforts should result in tens of thousands of "hits" on your web site, which will generate various form of support, including contributions. "We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately." (B. Franklin) I receive no financial support or direction from any candidate. If you need to correspond via e-mail, you can reach me at:

Today, I’m writing broadly about the following piece from

"GOP Leaders Warn of Election — Shell-shocked House Republicans got warnings from leaders past and present Tuesday: Your party’s message isn’t good enough to prevent disaster in November, and neither is the NRCC’s [National Republican Congressional Committee's] money. The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama or anti-Rev. Wright campaign, they are simply going to fail. More… (US Elections 2008)."

The article's message is either poppycock or balderdash. I haven't figured out which. A candidate's "brand" is not the Party. Rather, it is the candidate herself or himself. Also, if those supposed "leaders" had done a better job leading, well, things would be better.

If our “leaders” (former and present) are people like Don Young (political architect of the “Bridge to Nowhere”), Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, Newt-of-many-wives and Tom Reynolds (who had to spend $5.2 million to get reelected in a solidly Republican district), well we can live without leaders like them.

The real leaders of the Republican Party are people like Bonnie West of Washington, PA, Sharon Caliendo of Norman, Oklahoma, Adam Brickley of Colorado Springs, and Brad Marston of Boston, Massachusetts. They’re out there this year – as in the past – busting their butts to send great candidates to Washington, DC. You’ve never heard of them perhaps, but you’ve seen the political fruits of their labors.

Political operative Sharon Caliendo is one of the main reasons Dr. Tom Coburn is in the U.S. Senate – and not back practicing gynecology. Adam Brickley almost single-handedly engineering the rise of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to national prominence and vice-presidential consideration. Brad Marston helped resuscitate what appeared to be the stone-dead campaign of John McCain. Bonnie West has been a key factor in revitalizing the Republican Party in a critical area of western Pennsylvania.

I wouldn’t trade one of them for four Tom DeLays.There's much hand-wringing lately over the loss of Republican candidate Woody Jenkins in a supposedly "safe" election in Louisiana. As Karl Rove put it Tuesday night, "Look, Woody Jenkins [who's lost more elections than Britney Spears has misplaced underwear] is a fine man, but he's terrible candidate." I support only exceptional candidates.

As for Woody's loss, the best way to get candidates for congressional races is NOT to "round up all the usual suspects." Instead, get people who have great integrity and a real passion for the voters of their district. They usually win – later if not sooner.

Long-time readers will know that I regularly rage against the NRCC for not giving Diana Irey a dime. She was the Republican candidate who ran so ferociously and well against “The Prince of Pork,” John Murtha. It can be a thankless task running against someone like Murtha who has sold his soul to every lobbyist with a bag-full of cash.

Diana raised $856,000 on her own. She got contributions from all 50 states. Her total number of contributors was 7,000 – significantly more than Murtha’s total, although he had many more large donors. Many of those who donated to Diana’s campaign were giving money for the first time to a political candidate.

The Diana Lynn Ireys of the world are the future of the Republican Party. She is a rock of integrity, a devoted Christian who has “a love affair with humanity.” She’s teenie (5 foot, 100 pounds) but as an orator she outdoes Barack Obama.

At the same time Diana was getting zip from the national Republican establishment, Mark Foley – prior to the nasty e-mails scandal – had accumulated a campaign war chest of, oh, $2 million. I assume Mark was not one of the “leaders” cited by

How can good Republican candidates – in spite of Politco’s ominous message – win this year? A while back, Sharon Caliendo sent me her analysis of how Mary Fallin, a congresswoman from the Oklahoma City area (5th district) won.

Some people, even the brilliant Michael Barone, portray Mary’s district as a Republican “slam-dunk.” But is it really? In fact, the district is two-third white – and one-third other. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like one of those districts where Democrats run unopposed election cycle after election cycle.

Sharon said that Mary went door-to-door month after month. She wore out several pairs of shoes. She raised a good deal of money, mainly because she would not take “no” for an answer. She ended up winning by 60% to 37% in what was supposedly (and actually) a horrible year for Republicans.

I am working very hard to ensure that John McCain wins the 21 electoral votes of Pennsylvania, which probably will ensure that he wins the presidency.

I’m also doing everything in my power to ensure that Melissa Hart wins back her congressional seat in western Pennsylvania, that Toni Gilhooley wins her uphill battle in Harrisburg and parts east, and that Marina Kats defeats the indescribably awful Allyson Schwartz in Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia. I’m also supporting Michael Livingston in a very difficult race in Philadelphia.

These three women will come nowhere near outspending their opponents, but they will outwork them and outsmart them. Gee, what do we have to do to restore the Republican “brand?” We need to go out with superior candidates – like Melissa, Toni, Michael, and Marina – and advance the process of winning elections.

Sharon Caliendo added the following comment about the NRCC (which is not having a good day on this blog): "There was another seat that they wasted tons of money on before this one too. I want to go back to the days where we supported our Congressional candidates and not an organization like the NRCC that plays favorites. Campaigns were less expensive then too and the candidates elected were not beholden to the powers that be at NRCC."

Gee, why can't the NRCC raise any decent money? Perhaps because contributors have figured out the national Party is sending it mainly to the GOP's version of "The Ghosts of Christmas Past." The NRCC should restrict itself to technical and communications support for candidates.

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