A 'pure' GOP? Not if it wants to win in D.C.
By Bob Kabel
In January, the Republican National Committee will hold a members’ meeting in Hawaii. Up for discussion is a proposal called the “Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates.” This proposal is intended as a sort of a litmus test for conservative purity within the Republican Party. It includes 10 statements on such subjects as gay marriage, guns, war and immigration. If the proposal is adopted, any candidate seeking RNC backing would have to agree with at least eight of the statements or be ruled ineligible “for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee.”
This is not the way to build the Republican Party.
In the District in 2008, Republican Patrick Mara mounted a strong challenge for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council. Mara’s campaign focused on socially progressive issues and fiscal responsibility, and he was endorsed by The Post in both the primary and the general election, as well as by independent council member David Catania. His approach paid off. Although Mara was unsuccessful in November, he still did receive more votes in some wards than Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) did two years earlier. It was an impressive performance for a Republican running in the year of Obama.
If the Republican Party continues on this path, we will not be able to win in traditionally blue places such as the District. Instead, we should focus our energy on identifying candidates like Mara who are articulate and young and can act as ambassadors for the party in areas where it needs to grow.
We are at our strongest when we win elections by bringing people into our “big tent,” not by pushing them out, as the results of the fall’s gubernatorial races clearly showed. In New Jersey, Chris Christie took no vote for granted, running hard in big cities while sharing his ideas on crime and education. In Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell emphasized fiscal issues, transportation and jobs instead of wedges such as marriage equality and abortion. These candidates won because they ran on issues that affected voters’ quality of life and pocketbooks.
The Republican Party should first and foremost be concerned about winning elections; everything else is secondary. My suggestion for anyone wishing to maintain a purity test is to leave politics for a university life. As a professor, you will have the latitude to teach your theories without political 9repercussions.
I am not alone in thinking this purity proposal is a bad idea. Former representative Tom Davis, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Cornyn, Sen. Jon Kyl, former National Republican Campaign Committee chairmen Tom Cole and Tom Reynolds, Karl Rove, and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie all agree.
Besides, the party already has effective purity tests. They’re called elections, both primary and general. These real-world tests have worked for a long time. Why would we want another layer of bureaucracy to determine who our candidates should be?
The writer is chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee.
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