Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of Michigan's Republican Party, threw his hat into the ring this morning for chairman of the Republican National Committee. He did so with a statement that is somewhat oblique but nonetheless highly critical of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for example, promising to “NOT strive to be the voice or face of our party,” “be a conscientious steward of our donor’s money,” and run for only one term:
We cannot be misled by our victories this year. In 1994 we won the House and Senate yet just two years later Bill Clinton cruised to re-election. As we’ve seen in the past two years public opinion can change with breathtaking speed.
We can’t rely on our wins in 2010 to carry us to success in 2012. We also can’t win in 2012 unless the RNC re-establishes itself as the powerful force that put us over the top in 2000 and 2004…
Chairman Steele’s record speaks for itself. He has his way of doing things. I have mine….Even though we won an overall victory in 2010 we lost some heartbreaking statewide races in places like Illinois, Colorado, West Virginia, Washington and Nevada, and countless congressional and legislative districts because the other side had a better turnout effort.
Think about your own state. Did some terrific Republican candidate work their hearts out, yet fall short by a handful of votes on Election Day? Now ask yourself: if the RNC had properly funded the Victory program in your state, would that candidate have been a winner? Would that candidate have benefited from a robust 72-hour program with ground troops sweeping in for the final weekend?
These are the stakes:
– We will only win in 2012 if the RNC has the maximum level of resources it is allowed to spend on the GOP Presidential ticket.
– We will only win in 2012 if the Chairman of the RNC steps out of the limelight and allows our elected officials and presidential candidates to be the face, voice, and agenda setter for Republicans.
– And, we will only hold on to our gains–and expand them– if the RNC is able to provide the funding and leadership on reapportionment that is so critical.
Thankfully, in 2010 a group of alternative organizations emerged to help fill the void created by the RNC’s shortage of resources. They found support from many RNC major donors who had lost faith in the RNC. We need these groups and their support, but they can’t be expected to replace the RNC in a presidential year. We must rebuild the trust with our party’s major donors and bring them back to the table.
Anuzis is, of course, referring to the outside groups like American Crossroads, which sprang up in the vacuum, as well as the Republican Governor's Association, which spent $18 million on turnout efforts in the absence of any RNC 72-hour program. Based on the exit polling, Republicans really did fail to turn out their own voters at a higher rate than in the past. In fact, GOP turnout in the 2006 midterm was slightly higher than it was in 2010, but Republicans won anyway because Democrats lagged as well and independents favored GOP candidates by a 19-point margin nationally in House races.
Republicans will not win future elections without a stronger turnout of the base, and the RGA cannot be expected to play such a large role in what will essentially be an off-year for governors' elections. They also cannot necessarily count on independents to be so angry with liberal overreach in 2012, after two years of a split Congress and a far less powerful Obama administration. So expect to see other candidates for chairman come forward with a similar message.