Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions is running against Tom Cole (R-OK) for chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). This is the letter he sent to his colleagues yesterday, seeking their support:
November 10, 2008
Dear Republican Colleague: The challenges facing our Conference are serious and pressing. Across the country, we have suffered electoral setbacks that have emboldened left-wing special interest groups. Their legislative agenda depends on Democrat campaign success, and they’ve proven they will not rest. They now have greater resources, more sophisticated technology and broader grass roots networks than ever before. Our Party and our Conference must now raise our campaign operation to a new level as well.
For us to rebuild a majority, it is imperative that a creative, energized and aggressive National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) immediately begin working closely with House leadership and our Conference’s members to translate our principled efforts to solve America’s problems into electoral success. Our next challenge is not 2 years away – in fact, over the next several months vacancies could force a number of winnable special elections. The NRCC must be funded and ready to seize these opportunities and begin shrinking the gap.
As a member who has been specifically targeted by the DCCC more than once – culminating in a Member/Member race against its former Chairman Martin Frost in 2004 – I come to you with a first-hand understanding of what needs to be done to capitalize on every available opportunity to win a majority in 2010. With this single goal in mind, I would like to present you with an outline of the principles and practices I would put in place to reach this goal. My management priorities for the NRCC are represented by immediately improving its performance in five specific areas:
Recruitment: As former Speaker Sam Rayburn once said, there are 1,000 individuals in every district willing to run for Congress. I will work with the sitting Members of every state delegation to find, recruit and elect the best candidates to join our team. I will implement a balanced approach to candidate recruitment – including leveraging the NRCC’s assets to positively affect primaries (if necessary) to achieve optimal results in general elections. The NRCC has to motivate, teach and fund our strongest candidates in 2010 – and no one understands the local political dynamics and what it takes to win back at home like our current Members. We need to better utilize this Member expertise immediately.
Fundraising: We may not be able to overcome the other side’s funding advantage in just one campaign cycle. However, we cannot allow our candidates or the NRCC to be outraised as badly as we were last cycle if we are to regain the House. We must reform our fundraising methodology and transition to a less top-down fundraising approach.
In addition to maintaining and growing all current revenue streams, we need to create a more robust Member-driven and regionally-oriented finance operation. Our Conference should leverage the expertise in these delegations and use the local professional fundraising talent across the country with whom our members most effectively work.
Messaging: The NRCC is the political arm of the House Republican Conference and must be capable of effectively translating our Conference’s victories to success at the ballot box. In 2008, our Conference-wide message on producing more American-made energy to help families and small businesses deal with high gas prices put the other side on the defensive. We should build on that success, and use the NRCC’s national reach to communicate our Members’ efforts to donors and voters. From voter targeting to election data to new media, we need to be flexible and innovative in how we implement our communications strategy and tactics.
Organizational Strength: When our candidates’ campaigns face hundreds of paid staff working for the opposition, our nominees are placed at a clear disadvantage. We need to improve our outreach for voter registration, voter identification and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities. We should design a House-driven GOTV effort, coordinate resources and maximize existing Party efforts in targeted districts.
Long-term Strategy and Tactics: The NRCC must extend its horizon for anticipating tomorrow’s challenges. Most importantly, preparation for redistricting begins now. Our success will depend on our anticipation of the variables that we will face as an outcome of the next census. We cannot afford to let the other side out-smart us on redistricting. In addition, the committee needs to re-evaluate its capabilities involving a host of new technologies from targeting and data to new media and opposition research.
As Republicans, we share a philosophy and principles that resonate with the American people – to win, all we need to do is provide our Members and challengers with the tools and resources they need to deliver our message effectively to voters.
My goal is simple: to win 218 seats for the House Republican Conference. You have my word that I will work tirelessly to achieve this goal. With your help, and by addressing these targeted areas for improvement, we can win back our majority. With your support, I am humbly grateful for the opportunity to take on this mission.