So this is what it feels like to have been a Democrat for the last 6 years.
It appears that much of the polling was more accurate than it has been in the past. Just because something was true two years ago, does not make it true today. That is a lesson that needs to be learned.
Congratulations to Representative Giffords for running a strong, disciplined campaign. Just for the record, I believe that she would have crushed Huffman by a larger percentage had he been the nominee as she coopted much of his perceived strengths, and would have embarrassed him during the debates.
And congratulations to Randy Graf for running a good campaign despite the obstacles placed in front of him, both from without and within. It is a shame that he couldn't have hooked up with RT a little earlier.
Republicans have a lot of lessons to learn from this, and I want to focus on the local party for just a minute.
There are a lot of Republicans ready to draw their long knives and go after a few scalps at this point. That would be exactly the wrong thing to do. Granted, there are a few scalps that need to be taken, but that can be done without leaving too many scars.
If we need a scapegoat, I offer Nathan Sproul. As an unelected party member, there wouldn't be too many people invested in his success. His nastiness and ill-advised marriage amendment (it was way too restrictive) had no small contribution to what took place tonight. This is also reflected in his effort to end clean elections Quite frankly, he is just not what we need as the face and right hand of our party. He may not be the person most responsible for what happened, but somebody needs to be sacrificed, and he is more than expendable and was not elected.
After burning him in effigy, we should issue a mass pardon to everyone else, including Jim Click and Steve Huffman. This will be hard, but it is necessary. Arizona is slipping away so we must play smarter, harder, and do a better job with our home work. We need ALL of our players on the field.
The next thing we need to do is throw away the Rove playbook. As area Republicans, we need to focus on around 10 items that ALL of us agree on. In many cases, these will not be the most important items to us, but we should be able to compromise within the party in such a way as these ten items will look good to everybody. The upside is that these ten items will resonate. If they look good to ALL Republicans, they will also look good to a majority of voters. We cannot focus on the wedge issues that have been overused for the past three elections. We have either mostly won those battles, or they are unwinnable at this point.
Once we have those ten issues, sell out entirely to them. Pick candidates who can sell them, put them on ballot initiatives where applicable, give people a choice and a reason to vote FOR us rather than against our opponent. If someone can win on these issues, we should not apply a litmus test outside of these issues.
We can win on down the ticket if we do this. It may not be everything we want right away, but after each issue is solved, we can add another, and if the idea is presented convincingly within the party, it will win out. We need to be about ideas again, and not labels. The drubbing we took was an embarrassment and we are all responsible, RINOs and Ultra-Conservatives alike.
We do not have time to waste on further squabbling. Candidates need to be approached in the next eight months, so the game plan has to be put in place before then. This is not a time for bitterness and castigation. It is a time for learning, for planning, and for taking back more than we lost.
Democrats are now going to bear the burden of expectations. We can choose to carp at them and enjoy their every misfortune, or we can out work them and crush them with a positive, resounding message. If we do this there is no reason we should lose. With all graciousness to my Democratic friends, there is not a Mo Udall among them.
Will post more later as we wrap this blog up and return to my family.
Thanks for reading.