Friday, May 25, 2007

"Party Pragmatism" by Randy Graf

Party Pragmatism
By Randy Graf
May 17, 2007

I am writing this missive, partly in response to Frank Antenori’s article (May 13th) titled “Consensus over Compromise”, but mostly in response to what I have seen written and to what I have heard around Arizona since last November’s election. And it directly applies to today’s editorial in the Arizona Daily Star.

You all remember the November, 2006 election? As Republicans, we lost control of the United States House of Representatives and Senate. As Republicans, we lost seats in our Arizona House of Representatives and Arizona Senate. Locally, we failed to maintain the Republican seats of Congressional Districts 5 and 8 and an Arizona House and Senate seat in Legislative District 26. Just two years prior, we lost two Tucson City Council seats. Does anyone notice a pattern?

I agree with much of Frank Antenori's post in this blog. There is much more that unites us as Republicans than divides us and it is this common area that we need to concentrate on. Unfortunately, this unity did not happen in November, 2006 and we need to honestly assess why that happened so that we can overcome it in the future.

In the spring of 2006 RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman paid a visit to Tucson. He met with all five candidates for CD8 and County Party Leadership and made promises that were never kept. Unprecedented NRCC involvement in this open seat primary created and helped foster an atmosphere of resentment that rendered the General Election cycle to nothing more than an eight week exercise in futility. Our former Republican Congressman all but looked to be helping the opposition candidate. To put is succinctly, the establishment failed us.

The Republican establishment, while exercising their majority in Washington D.C. failed their national membership. New heights in spending epitomized and underscored a lack of leadership that should be the hallmark of our party. The presidential debates flatter us conservatives as each of the ten candidates do their best to proclaim their conservative credentials! It gives us hope as a party, the trick however is to maintain this thought process after the election. Senator Hillary Clinton recently commented on Social Security that, "We can't afford to have that money go to the private sector. The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better than the private sector will spend it." I trust that all Republicans, liberal and conservative, would stand against this statement that seems to be endorsed by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

I have been addressing the past, but now to the future. I have titled this column “Party Pragmatism”. I am amused by those who suggest we need to vote for someone in the primary that can beat Hillary or Barrack, etc. You know the statement, “we need to nominate someone who is electable”. Another local blog falls all over itself with this concept and it is fostered by good and thoughtful people like Margaret Kenski who insist that conservatives cannot win in Southern Arizona. Does anyone honestly believe that conservatives need not apply to run for office? These energies need to be redirected.

While a majority of Republican primary voters supported Al Melvin for the Arizona Senate in LD26 last September, this Republican majority district failed to elect him in the general election, an obvious failure in Republican pragmatism. A lack of pragmatism in the CD8 general election (with a 19,000 Republican voter edge!) has given us a Congresswoman who votes with San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi 96% of the time.

Mr. Antenori suggests that conservative coalition of members of our Party are contemplating a scorched earth policy in the upcoming election cycle, yet he fails to acknowledge the obvious that many of the more liberal members of our party did just that in the 2006 general election. Last year proved that conservative Republican candidates cannot win general elections without liberal Republicans support. A logical assumption would be that liberal Republican candidates cannot win without conservative Republican support. Ronald Reagan’s “Big Tent” theory was to unite Republicans of all colors, race and creed who believe in our platform. A “Big Tent” with members who do not believe in the platform will always cause divisiveness and that is what we have today.

Folks, the primary election is to elect our nominee, plain and simple. This is where differences among candidates are vetted and the Republican voters decide who best represents the views of the district. Get out and work your tail off for the Republican candidate of your choice in the primary. I hope these candidates will embrace our ideas of lowering taxes and lowering spending, standing up for families and marriage, and understand that we need a strong national defense. Pragmatism is to be saved for the general election. Pragmatism is Republican voters working for and voting for our Republican nominee in the general election, even if they were not your primary choice.

It is because of these experiences that I support Don Goldwater for Arizona National Committeeman. Mr. Goldwater will take a conservative approach when speaking and voting for us at the Republican National Committee, an organization that needs reminding that we win when we act like Republicans, not when we act like Reids and Kennedys. Do we aid and abet an RNC that seems out of touch, or do we move them in the right direction? Don will be a great voice for Arizona working for positive change at the national level. While we have a number of fine candidates for the position, my vote as a Member at Large to the State Committee will go to Don Goldwater.

Who ever our next National Committeeman is, he will have my full support in promoting the Republican Party. Mr. Antenori is dead on with the Team GOP concept. The truth is that while coming from different experiences and from different backgrounds, we all understand that the Republican Party is the best hope for this nation’s future!

I understand the reluctance in opening this discussion, but we must. Having an honest debate and laying all the cards on the table is the only way for us to move forward successfully. I submit that we are all on the same coin, perhaps opposite sides of that coin on an issue or two, but it is a Republican coin! We must prove that 2006 was our “Rock Bottom” and that we are prepared to win again. It is vital for our party and our nation. And only by having this conversation can we do just that.

Randy Graf is a former Legislative District 30 State Representative and 2006 Republican Nominee for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.


x4mr said...

For the record, I am a registered Independent, and I am NOT anonymous.

I do think you have to consider the general election and "elect-ability" when choosing a nominee in the primary. I won't touch the CD 8 debacle, which was unbelievable, but I will mention LD 26.

You had solid people in both Carol Somers and Toni Hellon, good people I would be happy to support, individuals with demonstrated character, intelligence, and experience. I know the Hellon thing is a little complicated, and you may not have liked some of her votes, but who is in the office now?

The Jorgenson / Somers race was not complicated and for bad reasons the wrong person was nominated.

Somers would have won in the general, and even left-leaning guys like me vote red when they offer the superior candidate.

Duke the Dog said...

I'm glad that both Randy Graf and Frank Antenori remain active in our party. It is good to see both posting here and surprising to see that there are things in which they disagree and reassuring to see that there are many things in which they agree.

I think both Randy and Frank are going about this they right way. They are eloquently posting their opinions with decorum and civility to create discussion not discourse.

They are both to be commended.

This is what our party needs and from what I've see of what both have written, both Randy and Frank seem committed to making our party stronger and better.

Now if we can only get the rest of the key players in the party to quit slinging mud and undermining each other long enough to maybe start the healing process in time to unite us for the 2008 election.

romel said...

"Healing process"? Only when you stop pouring salt in the wounds!! Pontificating on and on with the same ole - same ole is not a Band Aid!!
Incidentally 'brevity' would make the point of all that is written.

Rex Scott said...

Randy Graf is a decent guy...even though he is a Packer fan! I like him personally and always have, although his views are far to the right of mine. However, his call for party unity ignores the fact that even registered members of any party lack, for the most part, the "yellow dog" qualities of party loyalists in the past.

I can not remember even once in my life voting a straight ticket, but I have many older relatives (of both parties) who never voted anything but the party line. The closest I came was in this last election when the only Republican I voted for was Patti Noland. When I was a Republican (living in first Ohio and then Arizona) in the '80's and '90's, there were always one or two Democrats every year who got my vote, either because of their qualities or due to the fact that the views of the Republican were anathema to me.

I feel the same way now as a Democrat. For example, there's no way I will vote for Hillary Clinton if she is our nominee in 2008 because of the harm she and her husband did to this country. That doesn't mean I would vote for the GOP nominee, but I may do what I did in 2000 when I couldn't abide either Bush or Gore and throw a bone to a third party. My bet is that most people feel the way I do for any number of reasons about the straitjacket that is unyielding party loyalty.

I have to live with the consequences of my vote first and foremost. My party may pick a nominee and I may not be able to campaign against that nominee because of the demands placed on precinct committeemen, but I refuse to hold my nose and do what's best for the party when I go into the polling place because that may cause me to act in opposition to my values or beliefs. Randy's plea for unquestioning party loyalty is old-fashioned and unrealistic for most voters, even registered members of either party.

Anonymous said...

Time for you to retire from the party. You bring nothing to the dance but an angry, self righteous tone and we deserve much, much better.

thinkright said...

Thanks for talking about my blog. I completely disagree with you, but the party is big enough for those that don't agree 100% with each other...isn't it?

Have a great memorial day weekend and call Senator Kyl's office and tell him that you are thankful that he is such a great Conservative Senator, even if you don't agree with the immigration bill. Kyl is a great Arizonan and those that disagree can disagree in an agreable manner.