NCGOP needs to do more selling of the platform, less selling of the (R)


NCGOP activists have poured into Charlotte this weekend for their state convention.  They’ll hear from some of the US Senate hopefuls looking to replace Kay Hagan. They’ll also choose their state party leadership for the next two years.

There hasn’t been a lot of news out of the races for chairman and vice chairman.  Chairman front runner Claude Pope has admitted that he is Gov. Pat’s hand-picked choice.  Is that the best thing for the party, though?  What beliefs does Pope hold dear?  Where will he draw a line in the sand and fight?  How will he market the party to demonstrate to voters a clear difference between the NCGOP and the NCDP?  What does it really mean to have a (R) next to your name?

There has recently been some, um, heated discussion downeast about state House speaker Thom Tillis watering down conservative legislation and meddling in GOP primaries.  NCGOP HQ has basically dismissed those concerns and slipped into party protection mode.

In the 2012 election cycle, the party establishment told activists Pat McCrory was the choice for governor.  There was no competitive primary.  There was no discussion or debate on the issues.  Now, we’ve got four years of a governor who smiles a lot and rarely takes a firm position on anything.

There is concern that the same tactic will be employed to get Thom Tillis elected to the US Senate.  McClatchy published a piece today telling us how important Edwin Peacock’s race for Charlotte mayor is to the state GOP.  Peacock, a former  Republican member of the Charlotte city council,  has retained the services of the same campaign team that took Gov. Pat to the winner’s circle in 2012.

We’re told that Peacock is a great candidate because he has such a strong appeal to Democrats.  [His presumed opponent will be Democrat mayor pro tem Patrick Cannon.]   Is Peacock the man to sell the gospel of limited government to Charlotte voters?  Is he the person to lead a resurgence of conservatism in The Queen City?  Let’s check his record.

Peacock was so opposed to the 2012 marriage amendment to the state constitution that he cut a YouTube video expressing his feelings.     In his unsuccessful 2011 reelection bid for city council, Peacock was endorsed by The Sierra Club.  He was endorsed by McClatchy-Charlotte for his 2009 & 2011 city council bids, as well as for his 2012 congressional run. [Cannon, the likely Democrat nominee for Charlotte mayor, also got endorsed by McClatchy-Charlotte  AND The Sierra Club.]

MeckPac, the pre-eminent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political group in Charlotte, endorsed Peacock’s 2011 reelection bid for city council.   [Cannon also got endorsed by the same group.]

Peacock also endorsed a moderate-to-liberal primary challenger to  Mecklenburg county commissioner — and conservative firebrand — Bill James.

Americans For Tax Reform hit Peacock during his 2012 congressional run for (1) refusing to sign a no-new-taxes pledge and (2) endorsing the Simpson-Bowles fiscal recommendations and its trillions of dollars in tax increases.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  You can slap an (R) at the end of a liberal’s name, but that person is still a liberal.   A key concept in product marketing involves convincing fans of  Product X to leave that product and adopt Product Y.  If you have a Republican candidate (Product Y) taking positions not all that different from the Democrat candidate (Product X), what incentive is there for fans of Product X (aka Democrats) to cross over and vote Republican?  They’re already getting a hefty dose of big government.  

Granted, the main job of the state GOP is to get more (R) s elected.  As late as 1970, the GOP was an afterthought in North Carolina.  The 1972 campaigns of Richard Nixon and Jesse Helms, and the 1976 presidential primary of Ronald Reagan are all credited by historians with making the GOP a player in North Carolina.  What did those three campaigns have in common?  Passionate, unabashed conservatism. (Granted, Nixon had some shady DC hotel suite action going on, too.) 

Conservatism sells.  It works with the voters.  It got the GOP the majorities it enjoys today in Raleigh, and in the House chamber in DC.  Voters were frustrated with the excesses of big government and were seeking radical change to reverse them.  It wasn’t about putting a new set of hands in the cookie jar.  It wasn’t about changing the letters in parentheses next to people’s names.

Instead of selling a me-too Republican to Charlotte voters, why not sell the tried-and-true, proven concept of limited government to them?