At this point, we at RedState (and many, many other outlets) have spilled all sorts of digital ink on the state of the national GOP leadership and all the faults and flaws they have.
Mitch McConnell’s lack of agenda and the way his Senate Leadership Fund spent money. Rick Scott’s NRSC and their money and strategy problems. Trump’s involvement, choice of candidates, and lack of spending.
The quality of candidates overall.
It’s all a series of negatives that have absolutely hurt the Republican Party’s chances of taking the Senate and will make their possible majority in the House way more narrow than originally hoped for. And the national GOP brand will have to deal with this. The party’s leaders have to figure out the way forward and, frankly, some of them are going to have to just go.
But we can’t just stop there. There is a pressing need at the state level for the Republican Party to get its act together and start moving forward, rather than backward. The fact of the matter is that the GOP, from the very top and all the way down, has absolutely refused to move forward since 2020. That includes many of the state-level GOP operations.
Arizona has been in need of more stable leadership for years, but the inability to help pull together a couple of candidates who could beat Katie Hobbs and Mark Kelly is just the latest blunder. You can blame Trump for some of that, but the party has been so blindingly devoted to his will rather than the voters in their state that they overlooked opportunities to move forward.
Contrast Arizona with Georgia, for example. They are both swing states in that they are inherently Republican but have for some reason sided with Democrats in races like for the U.S. Senate. Demographics are part of it. They make it easier for Democrats to win, but that’s not the only thing. If it was, the race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams would have been a lot closer.
And, in fact, the state’s GOP may have tried to make it closer. It’s rumored that the state GOP chair, David Shafer, attempted to help Donald Trump find challengers to the incumbents – particularly Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger – and that state GOP politicians refused to work with the state party as a result. But you see what happened. Kemp and others won big, and Herschel Walker – Trump’s guy – is running well behind him. Shafer is one of the state GOP leaders held in thrall to Trump and he has actively tried to hurt his party as a result of perceived slights against the former president.
So now, the state GOP is being mostly ignored while Kemp loans his campaign apparatus to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, which is set to fund GOTV efforts for the first time.
In Florida, the state party is clearly healthy, with competently run leadership and a solid relationship between the elected officials, party officials, and the voters – many of whom have shifted to the right under the state’s good governance.
My RedState colleague Thomas LaDuke had a piece over the weekend about the Michigan GOP and its inability to take ownership of its own disaster and its inability to learn from it. I’m sure our California writers could write books on their state’s GOP.
In my state, Louisiana, we’re a safe Republican state, though we’ve twice elected John Bel Edwards to the governor’s mansion. The state’s party nonetheless held a convention this year which highlighted Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules and focused on 2020. Then, they held a vote to endorse a gubernatorial candidate a year away from the election, days before the midterm election, and before other candidates had even declared their intention to run. Now, the state’s party is in turmoil, with several high-profile Republicans crying foul.
I could go on, but you get the point. This is a fight that conservatives need to have at the local level as well as the national. If you want to actually win, it’s best to move forward, recruit and train good candidates, build a bench, and elevate from there. The time for focusing on the past is over (though it should never have been here in the first place) and Republican Party has to rid itself of the elements holding it back.