Friday, May 07, 2010

What the Tea Party Movement Needs To Know

By Sean Murphy

The Tea Party Movement is an anomaly in politics. There have been two major political movements in the past thirty years: President Reagan’s and the Contract with America in 1994, both of which started within the political structure of the Republican Party. This is significant for those who want real change from the Republican Party.

The problem within the Republican Party is the intentions of many within the establishment. While the majority of the country is right of center (anywhere from 55 to 60%, depending on the poll questions), the interests of the political elite do not correlate with the figures. The primary job of party chairmen is to see that Republicans are elected; they are not necessarily interested in advancing a conservative agenda.

In order to align the Republican Party with the values of the nation, those who wish to do so must understand how to win within the system. This issue has not come up because past conservative movements have started within the party. Once the Contract with America was released to the public, the war within had been won.

In the 2010 elections, conservatives do not have clear choices for the Republican nomination in many seats. The key seats are governor, US Senate, the 4th and 5th Congressional races. Some seats are more easily winnable than others, largely owing to politically gerrymandered districts such as the 1st or the 3rd.

The governorship is a key position and eminently winnable because most people know that spending must be cut significantly and the Democrats, politically tied to unionized state workers, are loathed to do this. The current budget “compromise between the Republican governor and the dominant Democratic legislature is imprinted with the union label.

The 4th Congressional is a likely flip back to Republican hands. Jim Himes has been repeatedly voting against the interests of his district. Residents of Fairfield County have been targets of the Democrats. The US Senate race and 5th Congressional races are potential GOP take backs. Richard Blumenthal has name recognition, but a lot of baggage has yet to be brought out, and the media is now beginning to take note of his long terrorist reign as attorney general. Blumenthal has approval ratings in the 70%, but can only muster 55% in polls.

Congressman Chris Murphy (5th District) will be hard to defeat, but he is very far left and there is more than one good Republican candidate vying against him.

All this being said, the problem is the party establishment will likely determine these slots. Money is key: Thank you McCain/Finegold! Big money donors are massaged by GOP insiders and guarded like Fort Knox. Whether people like it or not, conservatives have to work within these parameters, while understanding victory may come another day.

How to get conservative candidates the GOP nomination and funded

In Connecticut, everything starts at the town committee level. Each Republican Town Committee (RTC) has its own political narrative. Most RTCs consist of people who are interested in power or getting something out of the process. There are too few Republican conservatives who understand that the political ladder starts at these lower rungs.

The first major step to a nomination is the nominating convention. Every RTC is given a specified number of delegates for all state and national offices: Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, US Senate, and US House, along with the State Rep and State Senate.

Primary process

• If a candidate wins at the nominating convention and no one initiates a primary, he or she will be the sole party candidate on the ballot.

• If a candidate does not get 15%, they have to sign up a small percentage of registered party voters within the district.

• If a candidate does not get 15%, they have to sign up a small percentage of registered party voters within the district.
It is very hard for a candidate not winning the convention to win a primary, even if the candidate qualifies for one.

Party insiders regard primaries as damaging to general election prospects. This may not be true in all cases, and such important choices should not be left to the political elite, whose selkections are not always best in the long run for the welfare of the party. Voters in the Republican Party should be able to choose candidates, not the party establishment.

Taking back the Republican Party

Every even year in the spring, there are new town committee elections. A caucus is held where all registered Republicans can vote to determine who the new RTC is. In many cases, installing a handful of RTC members is all that is needed to gain control of the town committee.

In addition to the delegate process, the town committees get to vote for state central committee members. Unlike elected office, the delegates are solely chosen by the town committee. The State Central Committee is the board of directors of the party. Each state senate district gets two representatives, for a total of 72. The SCC votes for the officers of the party. The SCC has been very weak recently.

For 2010, attempt to get the conservative candidate the nomination and defeat the Democrat or win the open seat.

For 2011, start showing up to your local Republican Town Committee. Learn what goes on and identify those who need to be removed.

For 2012, take over Republican Town Committees. Every RTC has members whose time has passed or does not espouse the conservative principles Republicans need to win.

Mr Murphy is a Tea Party Patriot organizer.

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