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Posted at 7:41 PM ET, 12/18/2009

A 'pure' GOP? Not if it wants to win in D.C.

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Bob Kabel
Washington


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.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | December 18, 2009; 7:41 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic  
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Comments

I pray that the Republicans do continue to exclude moderates and minorities. Whatever happens in the short run, such a tactic will inevitably lead to GOP defeat, and from my point of view, that would be good for the country.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 19, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Well, if this is what passes for enlightened GOP thinking it won't be long before we are looking for a new bunch of backbenchers. But, truthfully, any group as dishonest, paranoid, racist and stupid as the current bunch of Republicans, at least what is left of them, really doesn't deserve a place in the national debate. I mean the likes of Palinism only get you so far.

Posted by: jrw1 | December 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

At 42, I am the legacy of the Reagan-era 'Young Republicans' and have seen the party drift off course and run ashore like the Exxon Valdez.

We've seen the Bush-Clinton Hegemony (is it *really* over?) and a sort of poltics that seemed to be consumed with the limitation of personal freedom and expression as well as an ever-intrusive, ever-surveilling Big Government.

We need a new Reagan; strong on defense, dedicated to culling the swine at the public trough, and dedicated to limiting the size of the government, it's expeditures, and the decreasing the size of the public debt.

Unfortunately, the GOP doesn't have anyone right now who even comes close to that level of Independant/Libertarian Conservatism that most of us old school folks dream about so we rant on message boards like this one and dream of the day when we can have a 'real' Republican back in the Oval Office.

Posted by: docwatson223 | December 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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