Conservative Spotlight: Michael Steele's Farm Team

In 1994 Republicans took back the house for the first time in four decades. Many credited a political action committee named GOPAC, headed by Newt Gingrich as being a key resource in the GOP victory.

Through campaign seminars, workbooks, audiotapes, and fundraising GOPAC dedicates itself to educating and electing Republican officials to state and local offices.

GOPAC is still in action under new Chairman former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Steele says that “GOPAC is back.” He told HUMAN EVENTS that GOPAC is a grassroots organization that trains future generations of governors, senators, congressmen, state legislators, mayors, dog catchers, and police officers “we play at every level of government.”

“We were good at in the 80s with Reagan, and in the 90s with Bush 41, but since Clinton the dynamic has changed. As I like to put it, Bubba went back home to the South and it changed the political dynamic,” said Steele. “We had a pretty good short game in the past, but our long game really suffered as a consequence, in other words, we never built the bench. We never built the farm team, so when the Reagan era Republican candidates who became elected officials reached its max, there was nothing of back fill, and that’s where we are now.”

With political dynamics changing all over the country and technology playing a key roll in campaigns Steele now has an opportunity to teach candidates how to adapt to these changes – build a “farm team” – and once again help GOPAC create a permanent majority.

Steele told HUMAN EVENTS that adapting to 21st century technology was the “jump off point” for his new chairmanship with GOPAC.

“The material, the training sessions, and the packets that we hand out, all of the stuff that involves words needs to be updated and reflective more of what’s going on in the contemporary political body politic as opposed to 25-30 years ago,” said Steele

“You need to be able to take advantage of the internet, blogs, mp3’s, ipods, cds — all of that comes into play — so candidates need to be armed to the teeth with this relevant equipment, as do organizations like GOPAC in order to communicate with them.”

Most recently GOPAC held a session at the Young Republicans National Conference in Florida. Steele said GOPAC was there to “set up a booth and get information out to encourage people to think about running, and to put on a training sessions for those people that are committed to run in ‘08 to sort of get them jumpstarted."

Steele told HUMAN EVENTS that GOPAC has an immense opportunity to teach our officials how to learn from the mid-term election loses and understand the new dynamics in place.

“I think that from my perspective, what makes GOPAC so important in this era is that our opponents have figured us out” Steele said. “They have Rahm Emanuael who is a political genius… I have to acknowledge our opponent; otherwise, that failure to acknowledge becomes a bigger weakness for me.”

“I told him as much, you figured it out, you sat and you did in 12 years what it took us 40 years to do…You found Blue Dog Democrats to run, who looked fairly conservative on paper who sounded very conservative in their rhetoric and who could eat away, over time, at any support Republicans had in a part of a precinct or district or state. And you won.”

“We have to work with our candidates we have to position them; we have to give them the strength to run which means that in certain parts of the country it’s going to be in the parties interest maybe to run someone who is maybe not as conservative as maybe I am for example,” he said

So GOPAC is back. Their training sessions and financial support made a difference in 1994 and it can be done again now in 2008.

Steele says that by building that farm team, and by getting individuals elected at the state and local levels “individuals who had been groomed and trained to the point in 1994 they could run for the U.S. Congress the U.S. Senate and come out of the desert after of a 40 year journey to a position of responsible leadership — Now we have an opportunity and in my view a responsibility to get back to that.”

“If you are someone who has thought about running for office, committed to running for office or is currently in office at the state or local level then GOPAC should know who you are,” said Steele.

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