by Ron Nehring
Internal elections offer the members and leaders of political parties to refresh and refine their leadership at the onset of a new election cycle. There is a reason many state parties choose their leadership soon after the general election – leaders are put in place to move the party forward in a new cycle.
As the performance of party leadership is reviewed, some commentators and self-styled analysts get it wrong — mixing up what party leaders can control and influence with what they can’t. The result can be incorrect analysis and bad recommendations.
Having served as a party chairman for more than a decade – six years as leader of the Republican Party in San Diego and four as Chairman of the state GOP – I’m acutely aware of what a chairman controls, versus the external factors beyond his control. Measuring a chairman’s success requires a careful examination of the areas a chairman controls, and comparing the party’s performance in those areas against the limits of what was otherwise possible.
First let’s review what a chairman doesn’t control. He (or she) does not pick the nominees – those are chosen by voters in primaries.
America’s political system is candidate-centric, not party centric. Commentators and journalists consistently gloss over the reality that the real decision-making power in any campaign lies with the candidates, who choose their own messages, staff, strategy, tactics and approaches to fundraising. If a candidate alienates key constituencies, fails to raise money effectively, chooses the wrong messages, or their mail lands after the polls close are all decisions made by candidates and campaigns, and it is they who need to be accountable.
And they are – when they lose, they’re out.
by Ron Nehring
We are now heading into the fourth consecutive “change” election in 2014. In California, Republicans are hoping for more success than we experienced in 2010.
In that year, popular myth holds that the Republican “wave” washed across America, but stopped at the California border. For some reason, it was believed, we did something different that kept us from electing the same number of new Republicans as we did in other states.
But like so many myths, this one is wrong too.
It turns out that in 2010, in the six most populous Democratic states, we elected only one Republican statewide candidate: Mark Kirk was elected to the Senate in Illinois. Every other statewide Republican candidate in states such as New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, etc. lost. The 2010 Republican wave benefited the entire country – except in its most Democratic strongholds.
What puts California in this category?
Republicans in the state have struggled for years looking for an answer. Some believed redistricting reforms and abolishing party primaries would solve the problem. A decade ago, some believed a more “professional” state GOP that was driven by staff and elected officials in Sacramento would be the solution. These approaches have all tried to turn back the rising blue tide.
What’s the real source of the Republican Party’s problems in California?