An Open Letter to Kirsten Hughes
Chairman, Massachusetts Republican Party
Dear Chairman Hughes:
The recent US Senate Special Election has kicked off a firestorm among many Republicans, some whom I represent and many other long time Republicans. Their common theme is that we as a Party continue to make the same mistakes over and over, leading to loss after loss. Almost worse, there is concern that we have grown complacent in simply accepting the inevitable, so complacent in fact that we are putting little or no effort into the open 5th Congressional seat. To get back on track, we need to acknowledge our mistakes, and then implement a plan to change the way we conduct business.
There is no way to sugar coat what happened on June 25th of this year. This was an election that should have been won. It was ours for the taking, but only with a strong Republican candidate supported by a strong Republican message. Ed Markey was uninspiring, and the Democrat base was unmotivated. But our voters were even less motivated. The Conservative Independents, the Reagan Democrats, and the Moderate Independent/Democrats were all disinterested. In fact, none of the voting blocs we need to win elections will ever vote for a candidate as far left as Mr. Gomez. We can think they should, hope they would, or even pray that they will, but history shows that to motivate our voters, our candidate must adhere much more closely to traditional Republican beliefs. And history also shows that without a motivated base, we cannot win.
In election after election, we continuously have the same problems. First we minimize the importance of our core voters, and fail to understand what brings them out to the polls. Second, we welcome with open arms candidates who move so far to the left as to be indistinguishable from liberal Democrats. Thirdly, we forsake message in order to protect these left leaning candidates.
Problem # 1 – Our Core Voter
We consistently misunderstand the mindset of our core voter, and underestimate their passion for the principles of the Republican Party. These people are a principled and strong willed group, who put agreed upon common sense principles far ahead of anything as suspect as Party affiliation. So when a candidate runs away from those principles, often times proudly stating that he or she is more of compromise than of conviction, we should never be surprised that they do not turn out. Time after time however we wonder why they sit home. But they do, because they shun any candidate at any level who speaks loudly and proudly of “working with the Democrats”. They see that as providing a political crutch to the Party that voted to ruin our health-care system, that takes away our individual freedoms, that over-regulates our businesses and that wants to turn over our nation’s sovereignty to the United Nations. They see the Democrats for what they are and what they will always be – a malicious group who never ever shies away from lying about Republicans and blaming Republicans. All while warping young minds, and pitting American against American. So if a candidate ever wants to lose a Republican race, simply make “reaching across the aisle” a centerpiece of the campaign. When a Republican candidate speaks the words “I want to work with Democrats”, what our voters hear is “I am not to be trusted. I am more of the same.”
Problem #2 – Embracing Weak, Anti-GOP Candidates
The fact that Mr. Gomez was our candidate in this election is not the issue. Under current rules, he won the Primary Election fair and square. But how and why did a candidate with so little experience even get to the point of being on the ballot? Now if the goal is to continue to lose, our Party leadership can claim they played no role in promoting the Gomez candidacy. But if we want to stop the bleeding, we need to be honest. Nobody is naïve enough to believe that our leaderships does not in fact seek out and encourage left leaning candidates to run statewide, as it did with Mr. Gomez. It props up their candidacy, and gives vitality to candidates who might otherwise never even make it on the scene. Worse, it does so without properly vetting these candidates. In allowing Mr. Gomez to even think he had a hope of leadership support, it hindered far better though less affluent candidates from rising to the top. The improper endorsement by then RNC Committee Woman Healey on MA GOP stationary is the most blatant example of the favoritism that helped propel an unqualified upstart to the top of our ticket.
The lesson here is that it is indeed the responsibility of the MA GOP to seek out qualified candidates, but only candidates vetted completely beforehand. But what is not proper is to get involved before the Primary. GOP Leadership must stick to the letter and the spirit of our by-laws, and stay completely out of any Primary race.
Problem #3 – Candidate over Message
The other way the MA GOP makes it easy for liberals to run for office as a Republican is the inclination to stay silent on important issues. We remain silent because our candidate holds a totally different position than the mainstream voter. In order not to hurt their chances for election, we shy away from Press Releases and strong stances on issues that affect the quality of life of our voters. This is better explained with a few example of winning issues we have ignored.
1) The Bathroom Bill. What mother or father, in either political party, wants a situation in our public school where their little girl or boy is required to share a locker room or bathroom with a grown member of the opposite sex? None! It is an overwhelming winning issue for Republicans. As a Party we should be banging the table on this one, and pushing for repeal. But we fail to speak out against it because one of our candidates, a supposed rising star, was a big proponent.
2) Common Core. What parent ever wants to lose control of his child’s elementary school to bureaucrats from the Federal Government? None! And if it is the women’s vote we want, then understand that no issue is more important to a women than her child’s education. But in spite of that, the MA GOP never took a position against Common Core, while our US Senate candidate stood with Deval Patrick and the leftists. Another lost opportunity.
3) The Right to Bear Arms. Gun control and the US Constitution are polar opposites. And if we do not stand for the Constitution, then we really do stand for nothing. Mr. Gomez was for background checks and for assault weapons bans. For our gun owners, that was anathema. Where is the MA GOP on an issue so fundamental to our principles?
4) Illegal Immigration. In joining with the unholy gang of eight, Gomez stood for rewarding law breakers with a path to citizenship. He openly bragged about being pre-amnesty. In supporting that legislation, he was also supporting trillions more in spending, making any claim of being a “fiscal conservative” nothing more than pretty words. This is a gigantic winning issue for us, but we balked.
Stay silent and be defined by the Democrats. We’ve tried that – it doesn’t work. Use the bully pulpit for effective messaging, and we can get our voters to the polls. And we will win! Speak with passion on these issues and others, like Agenda 21, or on a State Judiciary hell bent on destroying families. EBT reform is a nice issue, but it is only one issue. And as we are seeing now, the Democrats have proven time after time that they can and will steal fiscal issues right out of our grasp. Tomorrow, Rolling Stone Magazine will throw you a softball. Please hit it out of the park.
Also, please do not stand idly by while Republican candidates take cheap shots at Republican values and principles. Fire back and it will be last time any Republican candidate engages in that disgusting practice.
Candidates will come and go. Some will adhere solidly to our principles. Some may not. But let the candidates come to us, not the other way around. Voters admire courage and conviction, but they are seeing little of that from the MA GOP. Build our house on a solid foundation, and our family will grow and prosper. Build our house on sand and we will continue to slip.
Some may question the reasoning for an ‘open’ letter. A fair question. Historically however, in the opinion of many, the MA GOP has been less than receptive to suggestions from the grassroots. Complaints and suggestions go unanswered. By example, when forced to deal with the voters disenfranchised by the Caucus debacle, the MA GOP held ‘closed’ meetings, with Police guarding the door. Even elected State Committee Members were excluded. At our June 2012 State Committee meeting, no discussion took place on that issue, in spite of members desperate to stand for the people at the back of the room, as the result of some parliamentary maneuvering. We are no longer in a position to ignore the 800 lb Gorilla, and hope our leadership will take action. Leadership must act!
I suspect that naysayers, heavily invested in the status quo, will be quick to pull together some polling data to counter my premise here. For surely they cannot counter these assertions based on a won-loss record. The problem however is that the data will be put together by our Republican consultants. These are the very same people who have helped steer our ship into the abyss time after time, loss after painful loss. I have little faith in these people, be it their numbers or their political insight. At this point we should start looking for consultants who actually succeed, not just talk.
There is a belief out there that the MA GOP is turning a blind eye to the events of June 25th. As a result, our voters fear that we are intent on continuing down this road to self destruction. In closing I would ask that the media and our voters hear from you directly that the leadership of the MA GOP understands that we can no longer move to the political left; that in fact we must get back to our roots and move center-right. They need to hear that you and our Party stand arm and arm with our voters, linked by common sense principles and traditional values. And mostly they need to hear that going forward we will not be embracing or supporting any candidates who feels the need to mock, minimize or otherwise insult the voters and the values of the Grand Old Party.
Republican State Committeeman
Second Suffolk and Middlesex.