Writing in Politico, Jessica Taylor reminds us that when you look beyond Republican gains in Congress to the party’s victories in various state legislatures, “the bloody picture for Democrats nationwide becomes even more gruesome. Several state legislatures made historic transitions to Republican hands — some for the first time since the 19th century — and nearly an entire generation of state Democrats saw its ranks obliterated.”
Yet another story in Politico causes us to wonder if that picture would have been even bloodier had the Republicans had a more effective leader at the helm of the Republican National Committee (RNC). In resigning yesterday from his post, Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins delivered “a stinging indictment of Chairman Michael Steele’s two-year tenure at the committee“:
In a four-page letter to Steele and the RNC’s executive committee obtained by POLITICO, Collins lays out inside details, previously only whispered, about the disorganization that plagues the party. He asserts that the RNC’s financial shortcomings limited GOP gains this year and reveals that the committee is deeply in debt entering the 2012 presidential election cycle.
“In the previous two non-presidential cycles, the RNC carried over $4.8 million and $3.1 million respectively in cash reserve balances into the presidential cycles,” Collins writes, underlining his words for emphasis. “In stark contrast, we enter the 2012 presidential cycle with 100% of the RNC’s $15 million in lines of credit tapped out, and unpaid bills likely to add millions to that debt.”
The short version of the RNC’s 2010 troubles as described by Collins: The committee couldn’t afford to run an independent expenditure ad campaign on behalf of their candidates, didn’t fund a paid voter turnout operation for Senate and gubernatorial races, left its vaunted 72-Hour turnout program effectively unfunded, offered only a fraction of the direct-to-candidate financial contributions they made four years ago and dramatically scaled back its support of state parties. . . .
Of the 72-Hour Program, devised by President George W. Bush’s political team, Collins recalls that the states didn’t even know that the turnout effort had been shelved until days before it was to begin this year.
While a better coordinated turnout effort likely would not have made the difference in the (once-)Golden State, it may well have helped win close Senate races in Washington State and Colorado while pulling Republican gubernatorial candidates across the finish line in Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont. Interesting how all those close races went to the Democrats.
Not to mention “21 House contests in every corner of the country that” Collins believes “could have been competitive if not for lack of funds.”
When Michael Steele first took the helm of the RNC, I cheered his election. I had been impressed by his feisty 2006 campaign for the U.S. Senate seat from Maryland. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to translate the energy of that campaign into effective leadership at the RNC.
Let’s hope he steps aside and makes way for new blood, a leader able to build on the 2010 gains and help Republicans build their majority in the House, win back the Senate and elect a Republican president in 2012.