You can't win without conservatives...
[Hugh Hewitt] 11/10/05
no such thing as a fusion candidate, no such thing as a bipartisan
campaign or a non-partisan issue, and come
night, there are just two parties, one at the GOP HQ and
one at the Dem HQ. There's a winners' party and a losers' party.
you were speaking to the losers' party.
go. Why bother? The polls had shown for a few days that only
Prop 75 had a chance (the measure to stop public employee unions
from deducting political dues from their members' paychecks
without prior authorization), and besides, most of your people
aren't my friends and colleagues from nearly 30 years around
California politics. They are fine folks, to be sure, and I
have run into them in many of the seminar rooms of the state's
hundred universities, but you have now run into the reality
of California politics. The folks who don't care much about
politics, well, they really don't care much about politics.
They certainly can't get you wins on their own. There aren't
enough of them.
Hugh Hewitt - Senior Columnist
Hewitt is senior member of theOneRepublic & CaliforniaRepublic.org
editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]
As Nixon often remarked: You can't win with just the conservatives,
but you cannot win without them.
Your team told you that if you put enough bait on the hook,
you'd get the troops to marching. While those that showed up
no doubt dutifully voted for your four initiatives --and Prop
73, which would have required notice to parents when their teen
daughter sought an abortion-- the base most certainly did not
march. The collective yawn was hard to miss.
And they aren't even that upset this morning. They didn't lose
a thing --you lost. Perhaps you will spend the next couple of
weeks figuring out that you have exactly zero high profile GOP
conservatives close to you, and that there are a whole bunch
of lefties running around your offices busy advancing agendas
with which the right cannot agree.
Name the conservative icon upon whom you depend and to whom you
go for solid advice? There isn't one.
Name the single conservative cause with which you are associated.
Spending restraint? Private property rights? Limits on abortion?
Second Amendment advocacy? Judges?
You have picked fights with all the right people, but over what?
Redistricting that might have cost the GOP crucial seats in D.C.,
a spending cap that wasn't, teacher tenure tweaks? Again, mixing
it up with the public employee unions was fine, but off-year
elections aren't exactly gladiator time, especially when a messed-up
budget got passed because your advisors didn't want a show-down
in the summer.
Which is not to say that you won't win in 2006. You probably
will, because both of the would-be Democratic candidates are
stiffs with big bucks, and California remembers Gray Davis. Sending
all Democrats to Sacramento is a recipe for power shortages and
same sex marriage, abandonment of the public schools to failure
and endless traffic congestion. A Republican governor is sort
of like a fail-safe on the doomsday machine of California government.
This helps you, a lot.
Plus, charisma and the technique that will get a grin and a
yes vote from relentlessly bored voters who care not a whit about
anything are still much in demand.
(But you must know that Rob Reiner could change things. Not Beatty
--who looks more and more like Nixon every day-- but Reiner.
Reiner's smart, very funny, very savvy. That would be a debate
for the ages. They could sell tickets. No bobo dolls named Arianna,
but a real contest.)
So you've got to get serious about winning in '06, and that
means getting serious about the GOP base. Some suggestions:
1. Clear out the left
from inside the "horseshoe," the
Governor's offices inside the Capitol.
2. Bring in some senior advisors with pedigrees on the right
and listen to them. Ask Bruce Herchensohn to spend a couple of
days a week in the offices, as a "minister without portfolio." You
don't have to do a thing he recommends, but there is no more
respected figure on the California right than Bruce. Associated
with Bruce, but also with Reagan, is Ken Khachigian. Ask Ken
to take up a post somewhere on the battlements. And raid Hoover
--get Peter Robinson to convene a three day idea-fest with the
folks who haven't spent their lives trading quarter percents
with Sacramento's lobbyists.
3. The press operation. Someone has persuaded you that the political
press is like the Hollywood gang. But they can't be wooed that
way. They can't be wooed at all. And they don't matter. They
don't create the buzz anymore than they do majorities. Retool
and figure out new media.
4. The 2006 slate. There are big, big problems forming here,
and the downticket matters as much as the top. The initiatives
in the pipeline haven't been thought through. Get a marriage
amendment qualified, period. And take another swing at the unions
as well. Develop and qualify an initiative that protects churches/synagogues/other
worship facilities from the local planning departments. Develop
and qualify an anti-Kelo intiative.
say "I'll be back." Live it.
5. Finally, don't blow
the California Supreme Court appointment or the rest of your judicial appointments. I sighed when I saw
latest round of your court picks in southern California.
Look. If you are going to appoint Democrats to the bench --even
one--don't ask me to get excited about your re-election. I know
you can't do much with a legislature that makes the Swedish parliament
look conservative, but you own your judicial picks. Ask around.
There are great Republican lawyers who would make great Republican
On the California Supreme Court vacancy, understand that this
is the biggest decision you will make between now and next November.
If you blow it, it will be a sure fire message to the base that
the candle isn't worth the fight. If Lockyer is against a nominee,
that's a great sign of that nominee's qualifications.
I don't doubt that
you are more enrgized than ever and ready for a knock-down
12 months. Your spokeman on the tube last night
wasn't. (Enough of "rolling up our sleeves" already!)
It is going to be sweet to win re-election, especuially after
all the doom-sayers on this Wednesday morning, but you can't
get there with the tactics or the team of 2005.
I know you made some lousy movies, and you must have known at
some point that the team you had on the set just wasn't cutting
Have you got that feeling now? You should. You're the producer
and the director. Change the script. Change everything. Or go
back to making movies in 15 months. CRO
copyright 2005 Hugh Hewitt
Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator
and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh
Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
He blogs regularly at HughHewitt.com and
he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly
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