Advice to Candidates, Part 2
I was asked to speak to a candidate forum in chiburban Will County, Illinois on Saturday, March 10. I had to leave early, so only spoke to the candidates themselves and a handful of early arrivals. I didn’t record the talk, so this is from my notes and speech outline.
Hi, I’m Loren Heal, a Precinct Committeeman from Cumberland County in downstate Illinois, and Congressional District 15 delegate for Rick Santorum. I’m here to tell you how we can defeat the left permanently and completely.
We have to learn to think and operate like Andrew Breitbart, and we have to rebuild our Party.
Below the fold is Part 2, rebuilding the Republican Party as a Get Out The Vote machine.
I don’t just want Victory. I want to destroy Communism forever.
Illinois is in Play in 2012
I tell Republicans all over the state to take heart: Illinois is in play. In 2010, we lost the governor’s race by 30,000 votes. In each of the big counties of Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, Madison and St. Clair, more than 30,000 Republicans stayed home. [As this was an audience from that region, I let that sink in for a moment.]
However, in each of the hundred-odd counties in Illinois that we won in 2010 — we only lost 2 or 3 — more than 300 Republicans stayed home. 300 times 100 is 30,000. In fact, in my little red precinct, of 1,000 voters, I think 300 Republicans stayed home. I didn’t talk to them all.
People say that in Cook County the Democrats can manufacture 30,001 votes or whatever they need, but I think that’s overblown. We have elections, and we lose because they outwork us.
The point is that it’s not the collar counties around Chicago, it’s not Cook County, it’s not downstate to blame — it’s all of us. Certainly the candidate’s decision not to fight in Cook County the last week before the election, while the Democrats were playing pro-abortion commercials, made a difference. In the end, though, what killed us was our pathetic get out the vote operation. We were up by 7% in the polls going in to the final weekend and lost.
And the voter anger that fueled the Tea Parties is still boiling over here. People know that their taxes went up after Governor Quinn got reelected, but our state’s miserable budget remains miserable, as the Medicaid giveaways, union pandering, and lavish spending continue in Chicago and Springfield. To be fair, they did close some state parks. But people of all political stripes are unhappy.
We now see that merely trying to win an election is not enough. We have to destroy them, so that candidates are unwilling to run on communist ideas.
We lost because we only tried to win. And it all comes back to our get out the vote operation.
Our Illinois Victory operation relied almost exclusively on phone banking, targeting Republican voters to get them to the polls. Party Chairman Pat Brady and the party leadership do not try to fill in the ranks of our precinct committeemen to have a powerful party organization, saying that’s up to the counties.
There seemed to be consensus in the room that the Illinois Republican leadership — the State Central Committee — needs a thorough house cleaning.
The way to do that is for the hard-working, conservative PCs who want to have a fully functional party to rise up and elect people to the State Central Committee who will lead in the direction of getting out the vote. Getting out the vote for candidates who follow its platform is a political party’s main purpose.
But what’s wrong with the way things are done?
What’s wrong with just trying to win?
It Forces candidates to do GOTV. I believe the party should be handling our get out the vote operations. When candidates do it, all of the knowledge they gain, or fail to gain, about voters’ hot buttons is gone with the campaign, and must be relearned every cycle. Instead, I want a precinct committeeman, or his team, contacting voters in the primary saying “Whoever you support, please vote.” People who vote in primary elections usually vote in general elections. Let candidates handle messaging and the air game, while the party focuses on the ground game.
It assumes voters don’t change. But in Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and in other states, we see that both shifting demographics and the reality of living under collectivism can cause people to change the way they vote. We have to be ready to talk to them as they do. That means having a person on the ground, in their neighborhood.
It plays to collectivist strengths. The communists in the Democrat Party have cadres of dedicated workers — college kids and unions, mostly. Our support is broader, but not as excited, usually. So we have to go everywhere, and have a precinct committeeman in every precinct.
It cedes territory. (As soon as I said this, I heard a number of people commenting in agreement, saying “We can’t afford to let them have Cook County any more.”)
It leads to decay. If you only talk to the people you think will vote your way, eventually you lose people to attrition. We have to constantly search for new voters, as well as keeping the old ones voting.
It alienates voters. People don’t like phone calls, and don’t like to be treated impersonally. They want to know that their voices are heard. The way for them to know that is to have someone from their neighborhood come to their door — where they are in charge — and get to know them.
But a Precinct Committeeman, unlike a campaign worker, after a couple of cycles doesn’t have to visit every door to make voter contacts. It’s still vital to spend time on people’s doorsteps, clipboard in hand. But just seeing people in church, at the grocery store or gas station, an experienced PC can start up a conversation and remind the voter than it’s election time. The PC lives in the neighborhood and retains knowledge from cycle to cycle, year to year, sometimes for more than a generation.
It ignores coattails. Most of the effort we undertake in campaigns is in those 50-50 swing districts. It’s really, really hard for a campaign to change a precinct from 90-10 Democrat to 85-15 Democrat. For a campaign, that work is best spent in the swing districts, with the most moderate voters who need to be convinced.
But a precinct committeeman living in the precinct can spend the time needed to change opinions — or better, to make the case that our party is the best one to deal with the issues that most concern each voter. It may take several election cycles to do, and may never happen for a given PC. But there is little downside to trying, if a willing worker can be found.
Moving a precinct from 90-10 to 80-20 has the same effect on a race that flipping a similarly sized 55–45 precinct does.
We will know we are successful when most Republicans know who their Precinct Committeeman is.
Do you know who yours is? If not, see precinctproject.us to find out how to contact or become a Precinct Committeeman in your state.
If we are going to defeat communism, our weapon is a clipboard.