‘The Architect’ tells state GOP to ‘stop whining and get to work’ at annual dinner
In 1968, the self-prescribed ‘nerdy little scrawny kid from Denver, Colorado’ got involved in his first American political campaign; when after moving to Salt Lake City, Utah he became the Olympus High School Chairman for US Senator Wallace Bennett’s re-election campaign. He had already sustained a full-blown ‘beat-down’ by a neighborhood girl who was a JFK loyalist when she found him riding his bike around with a Nixon bumper sticker plastered on the rear. Yet, while one can only imagine what happened to that little girl, Maryland got to witness what eventually became of that pocket-protector wearing, political geek first hand; as it welcomed arguably the greatest political mind of the 21st century to its annual Red, White and Blue dinner last night.
Karl Christian Rove, the great American political architect of the George W. Bush election efforts, both in Texas as Governor and the two-time President of the United States; came to the Free State last night to motivate the party leadership into taking back Congress this November, and overcoming decades of Democratic rule. “I’ve heard you’ve had some tough times as of late, losing the Governor’s Mansion in 2010 and suffering some difficult defeats; but my first piece of advise to you is to stop whining,” said the hilarious political strategist, who himself took part in one of the greatest political shifts in modern history. “We [Texas Republicans] had a brief spell of not winning a statewide race of 114 years before we finally overcame that drought and within 15-years you see where Texas stands now.”
The man who has been involved in, and responsible for, some of the greatest political victories in the past 40-years, alluded to what many Independent political observers use as the model for electoral reform. Beginning his official career in Texas politics as a legislative aide for state rep Freg Agnich, even Rove said at that time people would ask him what insane asylum he just stepped out of being a self-professed Republican in a very Democratic state. Following John Tower’s historic 1961 election which made him the only Republican elected to a statewide seat in Texas, Rove and crew helped reshape the state’s political landscape by targeting conservative Democrats and turning them Republican – as well as micro-targeting elections precinct-by-precinct which led to Bush’s 2004 Presidential re-election in places like Ohio.
“We have the tools for you to win, proven in Ohio in 2004 when Democrats outspent us by $15 million, but we proved that the micro-targeting of precincts we knew we could persuade voters for Bush works well if used correctly,” said the right-hand man to the Bush ‘43 dynasty. “You call yourselves conservatives but you don’t know conservatism until you come to Texas folks. We had to build a base throughout 254 counties in Texas (Maryland only has 23 plus Baltimore City) and it came from the grassroots, precinct by precinct. For revolutions may start at the top, but they only succeed at the bottom!”
And while the Texas reformer spoke, Maryland candidates diligently wrote down the notes needed in order to enact real reform in one of America’s bluest states. Introduced by the last Republican to win statewide office in Maryland, former Governor Robert Ehrlich expressed the desire and fight within the Good Ole Party of Maryland. “Karl came here tonight because he knows we will fight like hell to duplicate the great efforts recently witnessed in Wisconsin.”
And while party leader after party leader alluded to last week’s historic recall election, in which Governor Scott Walker became the first recalled governor to retain his seat; most chose to also take repeated jabs at Maryland’s liberal tax and spend Governor, Martin O’Malley. “We would be blessed as a Party and a nation if O’Malley ran for President, for he would be the Howard Dean of 2016,” said Rove. “Even in the Democratic Primary they’re not that dumb.”
But while the annual dinner was packed with state party leaders and congressional candidates running for office in this year’s Presidential Elections, some took notice as to the problems that still seem to exist within the party.
“Until the party actually takes Karl’s advice and begins to micro-target precincts in democratic strongholds like Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, they’ll continue preaching to the choir without any real results,” says Independent political analyst Shaun Louis. “Honestly, the conservative message of fiscal discipline and even on some of these ballot initiatives, works really well amongst the over half-a-million registered Independents statewide, not to mention blacks and Latinos; but they remain an exclusive party without actually implementing the proper outreach programs that need to be done, which has been the reason the [Dan] Bongino campaign seems to have stayed away from Party elite, and has done well by reaching out to those who are tired of increased taxes and democratic rule!” Louis says that the room was packed with those who are guaranteed voters, yet he didn’t recognize any black or Latino leaders within the Baltimore or PG area, which doesn’t bode well for the state’s minority party. “How are you going to be the minority party with no real minorities present and active?”
However, state party chairman and former state senator Alex Mooney articulated at least some glimmer of hope for the party loyalists when he informed attendees that Maryland Republicans control 15 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions, having 158 locally elected Republicans compared to 157 Democrats. These statistics were backed up by Rove, the ultimate statistician, who ran off registered voter numbers in Maryland that has Republicans and Independents as the fastest growing bloc of voters across the state.
“You have to identify those races and precincts you can be competitive and put all the resources possible into winning them, even if they may not agree with the party on each and every issue; as we are an ever changing party,” Rove continued, pointing to Texas now being a minority-majority state still controlled by Republicans. “The common last names in Texas are no longer Smith and Miller; therefore, we have to identify those who have our values and convictions, who stand on the principles of faith, family, enterprise and freedom – even if their ideologies differ on certain policies.” Rove also pointed the packed room of hundreds to Chapter Four of his new book, Courage and Consequence, when asked how to win Elections in Maryland. "It's a great read!"
And this year’s field of congressional candidates shows the diversity the party seems to be embracing, from the young, Sicilian-bred U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, to the blue-collared stalwart leadership of Tony O’Donnell. However, if any of these candidates plan to try and win the hearts and minds of voters in traditionally democratic precincts within the Big Six (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, along with Baltimore City), they better begin revamping their outreach, especially amongst conservative Independent voters who share their same values and principles.
For the same old tired ways of winning elections has not worked for the Party in decades, and it would behoove them to utilize the younger leadership qualities of the Nicolee Ambroses and Brian Murphy’s of the Party, strategically targeting districts through social media and technology driven campaign tools used by some of the best in the business - like Mr. Rove. For if he and others changed the true-blue state of Texas in less than two decades, to be one of the deepest red states in America; then there is no excuse as to why the GOP of Maryland cannot do the same over time?