Restart the Party
After the election, Delaware Republicans found themselves a party non grata. Can the state committee turn its fortunes around?
(page 3 of 4)
Copeland believes a desire for longevity in office breeds spending, since spending helps show what representatives delivered for their districts. “Republicans lost power due to spending,” Copeland say. “Bush and congressional Republicans implemented big-government programs—and look where we are. Voters decided they may as well elect Democrats.”
Bob Chadwick, a former executive director for the Republican State Committee, believes losing the governorship, which it did in 1992, was key to losing influence here in Delaware.
“Having the governorship is a powerful dynamic to win legislative power here,” Chadwick says. “We’ve had strong candidates like Bill Lee (2000, 2004 and 2008) lose a close race, and we’ve had top candidates like Dale Wolf choose not to run at key moments in time.”
Good people and bad timing, though, may point to a structural failure on the part of the state committee.
“We’ve become a one-and-done party,” says Chadwick. “Good candidates don’t want to try, because they feel the support won’t be there if they’re not successful the first time around. We’ve got to demonstrate we’re in it for the long haul and that we’ll continue to raise money for them until they are successful.”
Pika believes the road back for local Republicans begins with a confession, then a pledge.
“Admit to the big-government spending mistakes of the Bush years,” he says, “and restate the sense of competence, knowledge and experience in approaching issues on a non-ideological basis.”
In other words, it’s time to sign an armistice in the so-called culture war. Kovach says Delaware Republicans must return to a fiscal conservatism that seeks to have government assist, but not control, lives. “Government should be as small as practical to be able to promote business activity without overregulation and to promote growth.”
As for the culture war—or the “social issues agenda,” as Republicans now prefer to call it—Brady believes the influence of the former Moral Majority of the Reagan and Bush eras is waning. “Delaware has changed a lot since the Republican Revolution of 1994,” Brady says. “The debate on social issues has to change to one that reflects a commitment to an overall quality of life.”
For Brady, those issues are being promoted best by Democrats. But Delaware Republicans are getting the message that Brady’s party switch has sent: Move too far to the right and you lose moderates, who in Delaware control the margin of victory. According to Pika, Democrat Jack Markell’s election as governor proves the point.
Page 4: Restart the Party, continues...