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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:00 am 
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In a couple of threads I've intimated that I had some ideas about how social conservatives can regain strength in the GOP --particularly in the House of Representatives. Of course we have to always be diligent in the South and make sure that we hold the line in the areas where we are supposed to win.

But, clearly, being a Dixie-only rump party isn't enough to affect national policy for the issues most important to religious conservatives. So, we need strategies not only for the heartland, and the cowboy west, but also for the blue East/Northeast.

During the run up to the GOP chairman race Michael Steele made the controversial perplexing suggestion that we "needed to elect moderates". Whatever his true ideology, what he meant was social conservatives cannot win in the North East, so, in order to get the Republican share from that region Republicans need to recognize that they must elect the Christie Todd Whitman types. So goes the logic.

IMO, the reason why this strategy is believed is because the GOP movers and shakers in D.C. think that its the social conservative issues which are a drag on their electoral success. But, in my view, that only appears to be the case when one slices the GOP coalition in exactly the same fashion in every region and state.

What we need (as Republicans, I think) but as religious conservatives for sure, is fifty GOPs --maybe even more.

What I mean is, I think its fine to put in a token effort to directly influence the Republican National Committee. But, I think our primary efforts should be to influence our state parties, and sometimes even more importantly, our county parties. In actuality, for our purposes, the county parties may even be most important.

The reason I'm saying this is because in some blue collar regions the standard Rotary Club Republican party cannot win elections. These are the people that the working class Reagan Democrats despise. The blue-collar Dems voted for Reagan, but they aren't gonna vote for a Mitt Romney, or a Mark Sanford, or Jon Huntsman, Jr.

So, Reagan won these areas, and these voters in 1980 and 1984, despite the fact that Walter Mondale was in the pocket of big labor. But, Reagan didn't project the air of an old money patrician, or of an upper middle class Rotarian. He projected the image of his childhood: a commonsense, down to earth, patriotic, working class heartlander.

Now, the business wing didn't like Ronald Reagan. They preferred the establishment George H.W. Bush. But, Reagan came to realize in a national coalition he needed them as well as the working class he was courting. And so, he gave them tax cuts, and gave us inspiring rhetoric.

But, he also gave us a model (at least a rough one). Reagan emphasized social conservative issues, and national defense issues, in order to win the affections of working class voters ordinarily suspicious of Republicans, and he gave "fiscal conservatives" (as distinct from business Republicans -- fiscal issues strictly speaking are issues associated with budgets, spending & taxes) tough talk about a balanced budget amendment, and a line-item veto, sunset provisions, and other such favorites of budget hawks.

more next post...

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:50 am 
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The reason why I think Michael Steele is wrong is because he assumes that its the Rotarians, and country clubbers, and the establishment types, which are the base, and the social conservative issues which must be watered down in order to attract enough independents to win a competitive district in a blue state, or to win state wide in a blue state.

Its often true the farther up the food chain one goes the broader the plate of issues a candidate will need to have to win, so a member of the House will most generally be more explicit in his pro life proclamations, and a Senator or Governor, ordinarily will be more general and less frequent in their pro life remarks (and other social conservative issues).

So, if we focus on county parties, it is with an eye to electing more religious conservatives, or politicians sympathetic to social conservative issues, to the House of Representatives.

What I'm saying, is, we need to look at the making of maverick county parties, in order to recruit maverick House candidates. And, with an eye to elect politicians friendly to social conservative issues even if the business wing doesn't favor that person. In some districts this might mean electing some candidates which look more Democrat than Republican with regard to certain issues favorable to labor unions, or other policies favored by advocates for working class favorable policies.

In concrete terms, this might yield Republicans who are for the minimum wage --and its increase, against things like NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO. The favoring of tariffs to protect certain manufactured goods. The favoring of regulations to improve workplace conditions which would be opposed by the business wing of the Republican party because of the cost and inconvenience to business owners.

In theory, what this should do is attract Reagan Democrat voters to the Republican candidate.

By definition, a "Reagan Democrat" is a person who is (a) patriotic --thus why such persons are pro military, and favor protectionist measures over free trade because of nationalistic reasons, (b) such persons are often traditional values friendly, i.e. they don't like abortion, religious speech restrictions, and tampering with traditional marriage, but (c) they often vote Democrat because they see Republicans as being in bed with big business.

In some districts this might mean the county party(ies) (obviously, many districts have parts of more than one county) may want to make overtures to pro life/pro marriage Democrats in the state legislature, county boards, city councils, or other local/state political bodies, and ask them to run as a Republican in the House district race. Probably, in order for such a candidate to win the primary he/she should have a moderate voting record on economic issues in order to escape the label "pro life liberal".

With that as a preface, I offer National Review's article on Peter King. He is a Republican who should have been caught in the purges of 2006 and 2008, and yet he survives. His survival provides a possible model for Republican candidates in competitive blue state districts -- which is (I think) a different model than the one Michael Steele was recommending. And, it reminds me of the maverickness of both Ronald Reagan and Mike Huckabee.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:53 am 
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Quote:
The survivor: rep. Peter King points the way for Republicans in the Northeast
by Mark Hemingway
National Review
Feb 23, 2009

'REP. PETER KING'S Washington, D.C., office is stuffed full of New York memorabilia. Every wall is covered with framed photos of actors and baseball players (King's allegiance lies with the Mets). In terms of decor, the Long Island congressman's office is reminiscent of one of the Big Apple's touristy delis.

There's one thing about his office that makes it unusual for a New York politician: It belongs to a Republican. As the 111th Congress begins, New York's congressional delegation has 29 seats. Only three belong to Republicans (one is vacant), and King's district is the only Republican district in the entire southern half of the state, which encompasses more than three-quarters of the population.

"It's about 300 miles before you get to the next Republican district," observes King, now in his ninth term. Even more remarkable, his political career is thriving. In 2006 and 2008 he beat his Democratic opponents by 12 and 28 points, respectively, in election cycles that saw Republicans take heavy losses nationally.

Even King is surprised by the level of support he's received. "In the last two elections, my hard reelect numbers are as high as they've ever been," he says, employing the political term that describes the percentage of voters who say they'll vote for a candidate regardless of his opponent.

His profile in New York, as well as nationally, is also on the rise. One of the more intriguing subplots to Caroline Kennedy's failed bid to be appointed to Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat was that King was her presumed opponent in 2010. With Kennedy out, King says he's still tentatively interested in running against Kirsten Gillibrand, the one-term congresswoman from upstate who eventually received the appointment.

In fact, while he was still deciding whom to appoint to the Senate seat, New York's Democratic governor, David Paterson, floated King's name. "I didn't rule out any Republicans; they ruled me out because they never asked," Paterson told reporters. "Peter King and I are great friends. We go to dinner often. He should have called."

Asked about Paterson's comments, King laughs and replies, "We put a call in to his office." He explains that he met Paterson in the green room of a television show over a decade ago. They've been friends ever since.

King maintains remarkably good relations with his Democratic colleagues. Former New York mayor Ed Koch practically tumbles over himself to praise the congressman. "I think he's one of the greatest public servants and we're lucky to have him in New York. I've supported him, crossing party lines, for his position as a member of Congress, and he's done a superb job there," Koch raves. "He is a person I can only say good things about."

Put simply, the obvious question is: What is King doing right at a time when northeastern Republicans are an endangered species and partisan acrimony threatens to engulf national politics?

Some aspects of King are inimitable. His retail political skill comes naturally; he has a genial nature and a mercurial mind, both hallmarks of his proud Irish heritage. The son of a police officer, raised in Queens, King has developed an intuitive grasp of New York's labyrinthine politics and thrives in the state's hostile media environment.

King's success is hard-earned. He slugged it out in the trenches of local politics for over two decades before rising to the national stage. After graduating from Notre Dame Law School in 1968, he went to work for the Nassau County district attorney's office. In 1977 he won his first elected position, on the Hempstead town council, with the help of Long Island's once-formidable Republican machine. Following that, he went on to win three consecutive terms as the Nassau County comptroller. King had an unusual amount of political experience under his belt, as well as a reputation as an independent thinker, long before he ran for Congress in 1992.

Through a combination of shrewdness and principle, King appears to have found exactly the right political balance to prosper as a blue-state Republican: "I call myself a blue-collar conservative, so on key conservative issues I never change. I'm strong on defense, I supported the war in Iraq all the way, supported the surge, I'm very strong on homeland security, Islamic terrorism. I'm pro-life; on all the social issues I'm 100 percent conservative."

Economically, King diverges from conservatism in ways that help strengthen his blue-collar appeal: "I have a very strong relationship with the building-trades unions. On issues like Davis-Bacon, I would vote with the unions. So did Ronald Reagan for that matter," King says, referring to the Depression-era "prevailing wage" law that's a cornerstone of union legislation. Indeed, even the Teamsters union--usually an enemy of Republicans --has praised and supported King.

When King commits to an issue politically, he's tenacious. He is perhaps best known as a congressional advocate of homeland-security measures. When the House Committee on Homeland Security was established in the wake of September 11, King lobbied hard to be on the committee before taking over the chairmanship in 2005. (He remains the ranking member.) In 2006, the Bush administration tried to slash New York's homeland-security funding by 40 percent. King said the cuts amounted to "declar[ing] war on New York," and he was instrumental in making sure his state received the second-largest homeland-security funding increase the next year, after Washington, D.C. New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly calls King "our fiercest defender." King, one of whose hobbies is writing novels, is so obsessed with homeland security that Vale of Tears, the latest of the three page-turners he's written, is about a congressman named Sean Cross who valiantly attempts to head off an Islamic terrorist attack.

"I've been very aggressive about what I believe in. I just think it's easier to get it out there and have people agree or disagree rather than spending a few months trying to make my message sound better than it is or try and disguise it somehow," King says. "Even in '06 during the worst of times, I never backed off supporting the necessity of the war in Iraq. I never backed off supporting the Patriot Act, FISA, Guantanamo, interrogations--all of that I believe is absolutely essential."

King's outspokenness occasionally gets him in trouble. In 2007 he ignited a firestorm when he was quoted as saying America had "too many mosques." (King says he was referring to the number of mosques that don't cooperate with the FBI in fighting Islamist terrorism.) His fierce support of Irish nationalism--his uncle fought in the Tan War--has occasionally aligned him with the some of more unsavory proponents of that cause, though in recent years he has toned down his support for the Irish Republican Army.

Yet despite the occasional stumble, few Republicans have his deft touch with the media. To say King doesn't shy away from the press would be an understatement; Politico.com calls him a "quote machine." And he knows where to find a congenial outlet: "I try and take advantage of television and radio as much as I can to go over the heads of the print media, especially since I have [the liberal] Newsday as the main paper in my district."

King is dismayed by the criticism he endures from Republicans who don't share his particular Irish Catholic view of the world. "I believe in original sin and that people have human failings. That also is the basis of conservatism and why you don't want to give too much power to any one person or entity, because we have these failings," he says. At the same time, he cautions against "always trying to sound self-righteous," and here King practices what he preaches. Last year, when fellow New York Republican congressman Vito Fossella was arrested for drunk driving and later revealed to have a mistress and love child, King penned an op-ed for the New York Post defending Fossella's record as a public servant and excoriating the media for continuing to push the story after Fossella announced he would not seek reelection. "We can be for very strong social values, be very pro-life, be very supportive of the military, and not be always be passing judgment on others with a moral tone," he says.

For King, a lack of empathy explains why Republicans are out of touch on any number of issues. "I think we need to find ways to identify with people's everyday life from a conservative point of view," he points out. "Often I see Republicans go on television and it's the same talking points and it's a Washington-oriented or--and I don't mean to start a civil war or anything --maybe it's focused more on what people in rural areas are focused on, as opposed to the Northeast."

Perhaps King's diagnosis of the GOP's ills isn't unique. But his proven ability to fly the Republican flag in challenging circumstances certainly makes him a rarity, as does his optimism. "I think that the New York that elected Jim Buckley and voted for Ronald Reagan twice and elected D'Amato and Pataki is still there. I know the demographics are changing, but close to, if not more than, 50 percent of the state could vote 'blue-collar conservative.'"

Should King decide to run for the Senate in 2010, it won't just be his own hopes--it may well be the hopes of his entire party--that get put to the test.'

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:26 am 
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Key (nay, vital) to this east/north-east blue-state social conservative electoral strategy are Roman Catholics --and to a much lesser extent the Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, et. al.)-- and especially white ethnic Roman Catholics --Irish, Polish, Italian, Romanian, Croats, etc...

The strength of the conservative dominance of the South is evangelical Protestants --particularly Baptists and Pentecostals, but also non_denominationalists, and conservative Presbyterians. In the South, evangelical Protestants generally take the lead. In the east/north-east, evangelical Protestants need to recognize the better leadership of Roman Catholics.

In the North (for example New Hampshire), we saw that evangelicals, especially Southern evangelicals, are looked upon with suspicion. Notice also, what Rep. Peter King has going for him, besides blue-collar credibility, is a strong Irish Catholic identity.

Thus, the Peter King story confirms what I loosely had floating around in my head --namely, pro lifers in the east/north-east blue-state region of the country should consciously avoid recruiting traditional establishment Republicans --who are likely to be nominal Christians from liberal Protestant denominations, and also wealthy investment brokers, business executives, or corporate lawyers.

Conversely, social conservatives should consciously recruit white ethnic Roman Catholics.

(Note, when I say "white", I'm simply recognizing that ethnic Europeans, for example Polish, are not racially Black African, or Asian, but obviously Caucasian. Their "race", strictly speaking, is of little importance. Its their ethnicity --viz., their national origin and religion-- which is of importance. Their "whiteness", if you will, is simply an incidental feature of that heritage.

When possible to recruit good candidates, who happen to be of Black African descent, the role of religion is more difficult to evaluate on this superficial level, it seems to me. Michael Steele, Michael Williams, Alan Keyes are all Roman Catholic. Ken Blackwell and J.C. Watts are evangelical Protestants. In some contests their specific Christian sect was probably of marginal importance. In others, it may have been somewhat helpful.)

The point here, is not preference for race, ethnicity, or Christian sect, for its own sake. Rather, the precise point here is to give primacy to the social conservative agenda, and to strategize candidacies around demographic factors (and beyond mere ideological reasons) which will enhance the electoral chances for social conservative candidates.

Peter King, it appears, is demographically suited to win his district. Neither Mitt Romney, nor Pat Robertson, I'm sure, could ever win that district. Where historical immigration patterns have congregated ethnics our recruiting of candidates must factor that in.

Thus, for example, if some evangelical outsider who lacks the regional voice accent, moves into Peter King's district, and decides to challenge King for the nomination to that House seat, evangelicals of that region should reject one of their own in favor of Rep. King (unless King has made some outrageous vote) because King fits the district. Social conservative Republicans need candidates who fit their districts, in as many ways as possible, especially when the districts are generally more favorable to Democrats.

This strategy (if sound) also holds if King's seat were an open seat. In an open seat such as this, social conservative Republicans need to resist nominating a Mitt Romney or a Pat Robertson, because the Dems. will nominate a working class white ethnic Roman Catholic liberal. And, most certainly they will win the district, and not so much for ideological reasons.

What I'm advocating then is not the cloning of Peter King, the man. But, the modeling of his kind of maverickness from the national party, and his kind of regional fittedness. It seems to me, a better route for Republicans in competitive blue-state districts is to elect such mavericks who slice the electoral pie differently than a cookie-cutter Republican android --who abandons the pro life position, foolishly thinking it is the millstone around their necks.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:44 am 
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I read every word of that VC, and you have my complete and hardy approval. FisCons will hate you for it, and the CFG wouldn't ask to have you burned at the stake, but this is the strategy Republicans need to be pursuing.

As I see it, social conservatism wins. The electorate is center-right on those issues. I happen to believe it is center-left on fiscal issues (people want the gov't and unions to guarntee jobs/wages). While most, if not all, of us know that true fiscal conservatism is better for the very issues that our fiscally center-left care about, politics is about perception, and until we change the perception, we have to work with it.

Bottom line, people vote based on social issues. That's why you have so many in the business class who voted for Obama. They know his policies are bad for their business, but they are social liberals, so they went that way. But they are in the minority. The majority of the country is hardworking, and hardworking people tend to be socially conservative based on the fundamental assumption that you earn what you get in life. But concurrent with that, hardworking people are often generous, which means they don't mind lending a hand to their neighbor in need (a fact liberals capitalize on!).

I would LOVE to see King on Huckabee's show. In the meantime, I think you are on to something about a solid local strategy for the North, and, I think, for also the north mid-west.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:54 am 
I just saw Rudy Giuliani on Fox. He made the comment that he is "moderate" on highly personal issues and staunch in his stand regarding fiscal issues and national security (not his exact words, but that was the gist of what he said--and he did use the word "moderate"). That, of course, means that social issues like abortion and the definition of marriage don't really matter. He stated that that is what will make for a strong Republican stand.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:57 am 
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These are some very good observations, VertiCon. I will need some time to go back and read them again to really digest it all. But thanks for taking the time to analyze. I heard comments on an article by Rasmussen (the pollster) that also seems to indicate that the Republican Party needs to get back to the grassroot conservatives, which we ignore at our own peril. The "moderates" are out of touch with the people and are hurting the party. Maybe it is not such a loss to have Arlen Specter quit the Republican Party in the Senate. It's just a very bad time to lose Republicans.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:15 am 
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Other news on Peter King

PETE KING'S WISE WORDS

Editorial
New York Post
April 21, 2009

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has slammed Rep. Peter King for his alleged "bigoted" remarks, but the Long Island Republican is standing his ground.


Good for him -- because what motivates King is a legitimate concern for the security of Americans, and he's not going to let such allegations silence him.


King was commenting Friday on the Department of Homeland Security's inflammatory report on "right-wing extremism." He noted that DHS "never put out a report saying . . . look out for Islamic terrorists in our country" or "that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police" on terrorism.


"If they sent out a report like that," he added, "there would be hell to pay."


No doubt. Even the Obama folks seem to go out of their way to avoid mentioning Islam and terror in one sentence.


King rightly acknowledges that most US Muslims are loyal and oppose terrorism. But he also says too many won't come forward and cooperate with law-enforcement agencies investigating terrorist threats.
He's made similar remarks before, basing them on talks with law-enforcement officials and other information.


CAIR, it should be noted, was named an unindicted co-conspirator by prosecutors in 2007 in connection with a plot to support the terrorists of Hamas.


Far from bigotry, King understands that the world is still a dangerous place, that America still has terrorist enemies -- with ties to radical Islam. He deserves to be praised -- not bashed.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:20 pm 
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Verticon - thanks for your thoughtful post.

"All politics is local." The thing is, in recent years, that hasn't been the case. I think much of the tension that you speak about comes from the nationalization of politics from the rise of a more unified national discussion, aided by the rise in 24/7 political cable news & internet. And it all boils to a head every 4 years with the Presidential race (which puts national political discussion front and center for a full year). And then once a new President is elected, everyone has their opinion about him and then we're off to talking about who the next President should be, and the cycle never ends. Huck's Army itself was formed around the support many people have for one national candidate, Mike Huckabee (not that that's a bad thing). I would guess that "back in the day" people were not as concerned with, and did not organize on a national level as much as they do today. (Think about HuckPAC & HA, who organized people who had never even been to Georgia, to make phone calls and help elect a Senator there. Or helping to elect Steve Moss to a State House seat in SC). Years ago, I think people were more interested and involved with local (city level) politics. But today, even the local politicians are "forced" to express their view on what should happen nationally, partly because that is how we can gauge them, and it's how they can build name recognition. (And it all helps build the ever-growing, ever infested roach motel in Washington D.C).

So when people think "politics", they think "talking heads" who nowadays are talking national issues. So people growing up now think that being a politician is more about what you think about where America (as a whole) should be headed, not about what your county, district or state needs. I think this helps create the "cookie cutter Republican" that you speak about.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:24 am 
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I think Peter King would be a good guest for Hucklabee's weekend show. I overlooked that last year when this thread was active.

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