Last night’s election brought a cornucopia of good cheer. The gleeful image of Bruce Springstein chewing nails while a victorious GOP celebrated to “Born to Run” still has me in a state of elevated good cheer. The one downer was the special election in NY-23. But, like almost every rotten situation, Conservative Party Myrmidon Doug Hoffman’s narrow defeat offers GOP Party Chairman Michael Steele a valuable opportunity.
Michael Steele can change the GOP bylaws so that all national level races where sufficient time exists for a primary occur have primaries if more than one GOP candidate chooses to vie for the nomination. The GOP booted NY-23 by selecting Dede Scozzafava to run for the seat. They did so in a closed-door meeting of local party officials. Few members of the NY GOP had any actual input as to whether they wanted Scozzafava as their standard-bearer.
This would probably have been a non-issue, if Dede Scozzafava favored a set of beliefs consonant with the party she was nominated to represent in the special house election. She did not. She disagreed with the GOP Base on abortion, Obamacare, environmental issues and gun control. If I knew more about her positions, I could have ended that sentence with et cetera.
She, like Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee and perhaps also Charlie Christ, took the GOP banner as a flag of convenience. This obvious fact of life did nothing to dissuade the GOP from pumping $900,000 into the coffers of a pro-Obama vote who fraudulently dressed in their colors.
The legacy of Conservative Stalwart, James Buckley was another thorn in the side of the bumbling beareucrats of the New York GOP. He founded the New York Conservative Party to run against apostate GOP members who struck him as being to closely identical to liberal Democrats. Doug Hoffman saw the opportunity to run against two left-wingers and used the Conservative Party as a vehicle.
Those of you following Steve Foley’s travels up North know well what a heck of ride Doug Hoffman went for. He came from single-digit obscurity to within two points of a stellar victory. All of this was accomplished despite GOP Candidate Scozzafava’s endorsement of his political opponent and her obstinate determination to leave her name on the ballot. As a result of this and some other political shananigans, The Democrat, Bill Owens appeared on the ballot twice, Scozzafava appeared on the ballot twice, and Doug Hoffman only appeared once. Not that these people were trying to influence the outcome or anything.
This stirred the souls of Conservatives everywhere dissapointed in John McCain’s and Linsay Graham’s servile civility towards political enemies determined to see us all off once and for all. It also teed up a valuable opportunity for Chairman Michael Steele.
Here are Michael Steele’s most fortuitous courses of action. He needs to reach out to Doug Hoffman by no later than this Friday. He needs to congratulate the man and apologize on behalf of the party for Dede Scozzafava. He then needs to let it be known that Doug Hoffman was welcome in the GOP anytime he wanted to renounce the NY Conservative Party and compete against Scozzafava in a head-to-head primary to run in 2010. Let the opportunity for condign payback be a recruitment motivator.
Michael Steele then needs to pass a party bylaw that no opposed candidate may bypass a party primary and then run for a national office as a Republican. No advertising, funding, endorsement or any other activity will be taken out in that candidate’s name under the GOP aegis. In other words, any local party machinery that sabotages the will of the GOP people shall be placed under Michael Steele Interdict. A candidate represents our people when our people agree that that candidate represents our people.
This change in GOP bylaws would send a message to the party pettifogs in Florida, New York and in every other state. Let Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel operate the Aristocray of Pull. We toughen our party by making our candidates hardened by combat. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jim Webb and now Chris Christie all have something in common aside from successful careers in politics. All four men won the right to run for office in tough, contested primaries and went on to defeat candidates that a lot of K-Street experts didn’t believe they could win against.
As for these primaries being stacked against moderates, Chris Christie was the moderate primary candidate in the New Jersey GOP Primary. The conservatives accepted that he won fair and square and supported him in droves against Corzine. This proves that conservatives will loyally support a moderate candidate who properly honors both party and process and retains the will to draw distinctions from his opposition and actaully fight against liberalism.
Michael Steele can make the GOP tougher, fairer and more united against the Democrats by making all national candidates with inter-party opposition win a primary to run for a national office. If he learns that lesson from NY-23, than Doug Hoffman has done at least as much as Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie has to make the Obama Agenda a whole lot harder to pass without serious political consequence.
For this to happen, Chairman Steele has got to man up and make the decision that will turn last night’s blown election into a valuable turning point in GOP strategy and inter-party relations. Mr. Chairman, you may lead at any time.