For Republicans and conservatives across North Carolina, there was not a whole lot to cheer about Tuesday night. Our side got out-hustled, out-strategized, out-raised, out-marketed. *Out-EVERYTHINGED.*
To satisfy the folks who have been nagging me all morning via text and tweets to offer up my thoughts, here goes:
The Good News. It’s always good to get this part out of the way first. You don’t want to kill the mood up front.
One good piece of news was the passage of the voter ID amendment. Granted, the lefties will go judge-shopping (Justice Anita Earls?) to try and take it out the good ol’ fashioned authoritarian way.
It was also good to see that we didn’t lose the three GOP seats in Congress the media insisted we were going to. Mark Harris will be a conservative star in the US House. Mark Meadows has taken him under his wing.
The Big Winners. Obviously, the ethically-challenged, highly-sketchy Wayne Goodwin comes off looking like a genius. (But that’s not so hard when your competition is Dallas Woodhouse.)
On the GOP side you can toss in Mark Meadows and Donald Trump. ANY GOP successes you saw Tuesday night are attributable to those two guys. Their influence played big among GOP voters. The folks they campaigned for directly all WON.
Shooting ourselves in the foot. Yes, I am talking to my home crowd in Moore County. The candidate marketing effort was lousy. We actually allowed a Hoke County Democrat to unseat a long-serving Moore County Republican judge. For the second time this cycle, we passed on the opportunity to have a state senator FROM Moore County. For the second time this cycle, we voted to RAISE our own taxes. We also ended up replacing one of the top sheriffs in the state with Sheriff Buford T. Justice from Smokey & The Bandit. I don’t get it.
Going Backwards. It seems like JUST YESTERDAY the NCGOP owned all facets of state government in Raleigh. Since the Hayes-Woodhouse team came aboard, the party has lost: the governor’s mansion, a Supreme Court majority, multiple Appeals Court seats, and a supermajority in the North Carolina House.
In European parliamentary systems, failure on that grand of a scale usually results in mass resignations-in-disgrace. EVERYONE at NCGOP HQ needs to be pink-slipped and shown the door. But, sadly, promotions and pay raises (and how to blame Tuesday on THIS SITE) will likely top the party’s 2019 agenda.
If this keeps up, it will be as though 2010 and 2012 never happened.
A Palace Coup? Prior to the election, we heard from various GOP sources on Jones Street that a member of GOP House leadership was approaching members on the down-low seeking support for a challenge to Tim Moore’s continuation as speaker. From what I hear, some folks in the House GOP caucus are growing weary of hearing Moore’s name in connection with so many scandals and sketchy deals. I am betting the loss of the super-majority will light a fire under that kind of talk.
The Shumaker Spiral. Scott Dacey. Robert Pittenger. Robert Edmunds. Barbara Jackson. What do they all have in common? They were Paul Shumaker clients over the last two years. And they all LOST winnable races. Yet, Shumaker continues to be held in high-regard by the party elites as the go-to campaign consultant.
An epidemic of nose-holding. Despite their flurry of nasty, vile behavior toward other Republicans, an indictment against a legislative aide and campaign manager, and a sketchy contract and payoff surrounding an Asheville basketball tournament that is screaming for law enforcement scrutiny, Bob Steinburg and Bobby Hanig got their tickets punched for Raleigh.
(Another sitting legislator from the western end of the state, facing a lawsuit for child support from his estranged wife, also survived at the polls.)
Three examples RIGHT THERE of faith in President Trump, a blind devoting to the almighty ‘R’, and fear of the leftist mob, overruling common sense and decency.
Message? What Message? I’ll never forget sitting in front of the TV with a less-than-political friend during the campaign. As we were bombarded with campaign ads, my friend turned to me and said: “I can’t tell which one is the Republican and which one is the Democrat.”
He was right. No actual political party or platform was being sold. No mentions of Trump by Republican legislative candidates. There was a lot of talk about spending more on public schools and solar energy. “Fighting for Our Kids.” “Fighting to create jobs.” Who’s against THAT?
Refusing to give voters a diehard reason to jump on your bandwagon can result in: (1) their sticking with their Democrat heritage, (2) going with the names on the last yard signs they see before entering the polls, or (3) taking the advice of the hags on ‘The View.’ None of those options are good for the future of the GOP or conservatism.
Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms helped sell conservatism and Republican-ism to a lot of folks who didn’t necessarily embrace the almighty ‘R’.
There will be an instinct — egged on by the driveways — within Raleigh Republicans to shift left and make deals with Democrats. Those guys didn’t come right when you owned it all in Raleigh. Conservatism needs to be aggressively advocated for, and the voters need to understand the harm statism brings.
Unless you want to return to the pre-1972 political environment in this state, when Republicans showed up on election day with hat in hand awaiting their biannual butt-kicking and were all pretty much centered in Charlotte, Greensboro and western NC, things have got to change dramatically.
Somebody on the right needs to step up and be a leader. Somebody needs to sell the Republican gospel to the masses. Dan Forest is in Raleigh. He has ambitions for 2020. Unless he wants some more of THIS, it would behoove him to boldly step forward and lead.