Veteran Capitol Hill pol Ron Phillips was elected chairman of the District of Columbia Republican Party earlier this month. With former Chairman Robert Kabel relinquishing the party helm to become GOP national committeeman, the vote in favor of Phillips was unanimous.
A familiar fixture to conservatives in Washington, proudly pro-life, pro-marriage, and lifetime National Rifle Association member, Phillips was research director for the House Republican Research Committee when former Rep. Duncan L. Hunter (R-Calif.) headed the group. He also worked on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee when Hunter was chairman.
â??Weâ??ve put together a coalition of blacks, gay Republicans, libertarians and social conservatives whose common denominator is they want to win something,â?ť said Phillips, who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan as Florida youth co-chairman in 1984, of Lamar Alexander in 1996, George W. Bush in 2004 and Newt Gingrich last year. Phillips told us he was soon meeting with Gingrich to discuss his vision for the Republican Party in a city where its membership is vastly outnumbered.
At a time when Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray and the 15-member City Council are under growing press fire for ethical questions, Phillips believes it is crucial that a viable opposition party emerges in the District. â??You cannot have a government in the capital city of the United States without a loyal opposition to ask the tough questionsâ??just as Newt Gingrich did when the House was under Democratic rule,â?ť he said.
A big election looming
With Councilman Phil Mendelsohn assuming the council chairmanship recently, a special election will be held to fill his vacant council seat April 23rd. Much like Republicans who kept running against the odds in Southern states when they were solidly Democratic in the early 1960s, Republican council hopeful Pat Mara has lost two previous races for the post and is now an elected member of the cityâ??s school board. Under city election law, all candidates regardless of party compete on the same ballot for the open council seat with the top vote-getter being the winner.
â??Pat looks pretty good as the lone Republican against six Democrats,â?ť says the ever-confident Phillips. â??I would say there are three big elections for Republicans nationwide to watch and get involved in 2013â??[Gov.] Chris Christieâ??s re-election bid in New Jersey, [Attorney General] Ken Cuccinelliâ??s race for governor of Virginia, and Pat Maraâ??s race for city council here in the District. Just imagine how the Republicans would feel across the country if they won the trifecta.â?ť