Politico has a good piece up this morning about GOP leaders who are seeking to fend off conservatives in primary races – especially in Senate and Presidential races.
With regards to the presidential primary, I’m not sure what these leaders are talking about. The establishment has gotten its way, the last two cycles in a row with McCain and Romney. The article points to Romney’s two most damaging buzz phrases – “47 percent” and “self-deportation” as proof that the primary system needs to change.
To be clear, this site has advocated a “Red State Solution” wherein the most reliably red states get bumped up in the primary calendar so that Democrat states aren’t deciding who our candidate will be. For example, Texas, rather than voting last would vote in early February as one of the first seven or eight states.
But the primary process didn’t hurt Romney the least bit. A drawn out voting calendar wasn’t what allowed Obama to define Romney as some GOP operatives suggest, it was Romney’s flat footedness in the early summer. Likewise, the “47 percent” remark was made to private donors behind closed doors. Finally, the “self-deportation” comment made many conservatives cringe during the debate in which Romney said it. That was Romney’s attempt to move to the right of people like Gingrich and Perry who had solid immigration plans they were discussing. If anything, the drawn out Primary process allowed us to see that Michele Bachmann wasn’t ready for prime time, Herman Cain was more rhetoric than substance, Tim Pawlenty didn’t have enough heart and that Rick Perry was a worst debater than the kids in your typical middle school debate club. The system worked. It didn’t yield us a Republican but it at least we got someone that speak about the issues on camera.
In regards to the Senate, there have been missteps. Candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle and Todd Akin have prevented us from winning the Senate two years in a row. However, without Tea Party Activists, Republicans wouldn’t have Deb Fischer – a conservative woman from the heartland in the Senate. We wouldn’t have Marco Rubio as the standard bearer for our party. We wouldn’t have Tim Scott having been elected to the House and now in the Senate. Without conservatives pushing the right candidates in primaries, we wouldn’t have had Ted Cruz enter the Senate yesterday as another Hispanic GOP Senator. The Tea Party revolution took back the House of Representatives so let us look at all of the facts.
By and large, the GOP is much better off because of grassroots activists than they were without them in 2006 and 2008.
So the GOP must be warned. They can try a top-down approach where they push candidates that activists don’t want. John Cornyn can get Karl Rove to ruin conservatives on the television before each primary election and maybe they will get their candidate to win the nomination. But, where will they be without activists campaigning for them come November?
The GOP establishment didn’t have that great of a track record in November last year. Remember establishment golden boy George Allen in VA? Connie Mack in FL? Tommy Thompson in WI? The GOP establishment gave away our Congressional majorities in 2006 and 2008. This may be the pot and the kettle. John Cornyn and co. could have a whole new set of problems if they pursue this angel too aggressively throughout 2013.