by Warner Todd Huston | January 21, 2010 1:26 pm
(Here, I think, is why Republicans in Illinois are always lagging behind)
Wednesday morning the Illinois GOP held a conference call in order to buck up the troops after the momentous victory for Republican Scott Brown who won election to the Senate in the very blue state of Massachusetts. When I got the notice of the call late on Tuesday night, I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, during the call the next day one little phase escaped our Chairman’s lips that I think was not only uncalled for, but was counter productive to our unity goal. For that matter, it was a slight to mere civility.
During the call, Chairman Pat Brady said that the folks in our party that oppose Mark Kirk’s candidacy for the Senate, those that are part of the “dump Kirk movement,” are the “fringe” of the party. Really? In a call for unity, one of Chairman Brady’s first thoughts is to cast names at folks in our own party?
It seems as if Chairman Brady learned the wrong lessons from Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.
Chairman Brady talked about the split seen nationally in the GOP between conservatives and moderates and claimed he didn’t “accept the premise.” He said that there is no split in Illinois and that conservatives are the “fringe” if they stand against the liberal Kirk.
On the call Brady said, “The ‘Dump Kirk’ movement is a fringe movement. There’s not one candidate that’s pulled above 5 percent except Mark Kirk. So if there’s a split, it’s sure not a strong one.”
In a state like Illinois where the sort of independents that helped Senator elect Scott Brown to win in Massachusetts don’t exist in such numbers, Chairman Brady makes a major mistake to start calling his own conservative base a “fringe” element in the party.
As to Kirk, the fact is, even though he is trying to sell himself as a center right candidate, few of his ratings help him make that case. By nearly every conservative rating, Mark Kirk proves himself to be a center left candidate, not a center right one.
He is in the 50% range on free trade, he is below 50% on the Second Amendment, and he is weak on pro-life issues. And he is just barely “satisfactory” on taxes rating in at 58% on the National Taxpayer’s Union (NTU) scale.
Kirk is not only not a conservative, he isn’t even the center right candidate he claims to be!
In a press release, Patrick Hughes, the real conservative candidate for Senate, warned Brady that his name calling was not going to help the Ill. GOP rebuild its coalition.
This claim just goes to show how out of touch the Republican Establishment, in Illinois and in the country, has become with the American people. Scott Brown’s victory yesterday was supported in large part by the national conservative movement. This movement, which is growing strong in Illinois and behind my campaign, is fueled by discontent with the leadership within Washington and within the Republican Party. Voters are tired of being told what candidates are best for them. Establishment groups and leaders like Pat Brady believe they can speak on behalf of voters better than they can speak for themselves, so they pick “the best candidate” behind closed doors and ignore the democratic primary process.
Now, I do see Brady’s logic to a certain extent. If polls show that Kirk is the only candidate that has support of the party then, yes, the “party” is rather lined up in support of Kirk. But was it necessary to start calling the conservative wing of the party a “fringe” element even as you are trying to rally the party to unity?
I think that Hughes is right to the extent that this proves a bit of a disconnect between party leadership and the voters.
Lastly, I’d like to say one more thing. Some of the unity that Brady sees for Kirk is based on the say so of a party leadership that is not elected by the people but is appointed to power by one another. It’s an echo chamber of Kirkers, one that is not in touch with the conservative wing of the party. And not only are they not connected to the conservative wing, they are contemptuous of it. But, conservative wing aside, it is quite likely that the GOP leadership isn’t even in touch with the average Republican voter. After all, they have little contact with them even in getting to their positions of influence.
So, I hope that in the future Mr. Brady makes at least some attempt to reach out to people in his own party before he reaches out to the sort of liberals that would be excited by a Mark Kirk type of candidacy.
Scott Brown’s win proved that we can run as proud conservatives and not just by pretending to be one as Kirk is but by actually being one. So let’s be clear, here. Conservatives, even in left-wing Illinois, are the GOP base, Chairman Brady. NOT a “fringe” element.
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