Senate Race and Party Building

TIME.com: Dreaming About The Senate — Jul. 05, 2004
If the Democrats pull off a coup, it won’t entirely be because of a change in the political climate. Corzine maneuvered early in three states %u2014 Colorado, Oklahoma and South Carolina %u2014 to winnow the field of Democratic candidates to the strongest in order to avoid costly primary battles.

This article stirred up some thoughts about our local GOP. Parties grooming candidates this way is how parties are built. It’s ironic that the Democratic Party is the one whose leadership is willing to get involved in grooming candidates, while our local Republican county committees think it should be left to the voters. It reached a ridiculous height in Newton County in 2002 with over $100,000 being spent in off year elections for the $50,000/year county auditors job in a six way race and is being matched in 2004 with a similar situation in the sheriff’s primary. If the party committee makes no endorsements, doesn’t groom candidates for office, doesn’t encourage the most qualified and sometimes the most loyal people to run for office, the committee is really just an irrelevant leftover from an earlier time. Sure, the committee can make get out the vote calls, but so can any supporter of Republican candidates.

As a voter, I’m faced with a choice in the Sheriff’s race between several unknowns, a candidate whose family have been real pillars of the community for years and the basically unknown candidate endorsed by the current Sheriff (apparently on the basis of religious affiliation). Ideally, the committee should have gotten involved in grooming a good candidate before anyone announced and even barring that they ought to issue an endorsement if there is a clear choice, even if it’s just deferring to the outgoing Republican sheriff.

At the state level, the leadership does seem to get I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the Missouri GOP is headed up by Ann Wagner who is also co-chair of the RNC. The big wigs are backing the newly declared Lieutenant Governor candidate Peter Kinder against Pat Secrest who has been running for 3 years and has driven 89,000 miles visiting every county in the state, some of them multiple times. Kinder, the current Senate Majority Leader, looks like he may be a stronger candidate and there is some payback here for his role in building a state Senate majority. I like Pat Secrest (personally more than policywise) but I have to give serious consideration to Kinder as he really looks like the stronger candidate in being able to garner the kind of support that will win not just the primary but the general election.

Running a political party isn’t about being nice or well liked. That’s the job of the candidate. The party leadership may sometimes have to hurt feelings, as I’m sure Pat Secrest’s are hurt, but if it’s in the best interest of building the party, that’s what has to be done. Unfortunately, for a party that has been so effective at the grass roots in many ways, we don’t seem to be getting that point at the local level.

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