I wonder if Republican Committeemen are even listening to the Republican grassroots. Or do they just think they know best? That’s what they thought two years ago. They thought the RNC needed a black man as the face of the Republican Party to take on Barack Obama. They thought the consultants knew best.
Now look at where we are. Maybe, just maybe, if the Republican Committeemen listened to the grassroots for just a minute they’d be able to finally stop the revolt among the grassroots still so intent on doing end runs around the RNC.
If they listened to the grassroots before voting for Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I think they’d be surprised. They might learn some of the following.
Many people who watched the RNC Chairman debate were actually shocked at how well Michael Steele did. I myself, who did not watch it initially but went back to it, have to commend Chairman Steele for doing a solid job. I’m even shocked I’m writing that.
Saul Anuzis also did very, very well. His answers were refreshing and deeply reflective of a tea party heart, something the GOP could probably use at the top right now.
What the committeemen might also be surprised to learn is that among both grassroots activists and conservative organizations in general there is an extremely high level of angst over Maria Cino.
Having given money to and supported an organization that backs pro-child killing candidates, Cino is more divisive than I had realized. And if it is surprising to me how divisive she is, I suspect the committeemen will be taken by surprise too. To be clear here, I am told that Ms. Cino has come around to the pro-life position and I have no reason to doubt it. But many do and I think that lingering doubt should be cause for concern.
But it is not just giving money to and supporting candidates who support killing children that has the grassroots upset with Cino. It is also the very thing the RNC needs to avoid this year — ties too close to the establishment.
Reince Priebus, whose name I will never be able to pronounce, is obviously the most contentious candidate, if only because everyone is presuming Michael Steele absolutely cannot get re-elected.
I have been personally concerned because several people tell me that the same consultants who backed Steele two years ago are backing Priebus. But I will say in his credit that many of the tea party and grassroots activists in Wisconsin sing his praises. [UPDATE on Priebus: I had earlier noted the Anderson brothers backing Priebus. Apparently this info was conflated from the Anderson brothers doing work in Wisconsin for the state party. They are not, however, backing Priebus.]
Were I an RNC committeeman, however, I would be deeply worried about the rift between the tea party movement and the RNC right now. And Priebus, more than any of the other candidates save Cino, exacerbates that rift. Outside of Wisconin, the tea party movement wants to see this guy defeated with the passion otherwise reserved for defeating Michael Steele.
It may be unfair. There are many Priebus defenders who think so. But that he has done such a poor job addressing the concerns the grassroots have should worry the RNC that they’d be in for two more years of fighting with the grassroots.
Last is Ann Wagner. Her RNC Chairman debate performance was not stellar. But Wagner is loved, loved, loved by the grassroots in a way no other candidate save Saul Anuzis is. Like with Anuzis, questions on life issues go away as do questions of grassroots support.
Thus if I were an RNC Committeeman I would realize that the present rift between the grassroots and establishment could largely be healed overnight, but only by supporting Wagner or Anuzis.
Personally, I’d vote for Saul Anuzis. I know him and know the amazing work he did when the odds were against him in Michigan. Wager is an attractive alternative.
But you can bet your bottom dollar that, whether you or I may like it, the fight with the tea party movement will continue if Steele, Priebus or Cino is chosen. That’s just the reality of the situation.