Across the proverbial aisle, that is. The recent election of Kirsten Hughes to be Chair of the Massachusetts Republican party seems to have left a lot of local Republican activists baffled and disheartened – not because of any perceived shortcomings of Hughes herself, but because of how her election came about. Hughes was former Senator Scott Brown’s candidate; she was one of his campaign staffers, and he endorsed her early on. There is very little doubt that, but for Brown’s strong backing (he was reportedly working the phones hard for her election), she wouldn’t have had a chance and Rick Green would have been elected (as it was, Hughes won by the narrowest of margins – 2 votes out of 80 cast (41-39)). And then, a couple of days later, having installed his preferred candidate to lead the party, Brown announced that he was not running for Senate, leaving the party in a state of near-total meltdown.
The news of Brown’s decision not to run did not play well with those trying to digest the results of Hughes’s election.
what the hell was last night [the GOP chair election] for? 41 people voted to give him [Brown] what he wanted and the next day, he says he’s not running? WTF? I bet if there was anyone who voted for Hughes out of fear Brown wouldn’t run could have their votes back now.
The breath of the understatement of this comment … is jaw-droppingly Epic.
I feel defeated
And it’s not because of Kirsten Hughes.
When I watched the chaos unfold last night over the “RG” contested ballot, my heart was broken. When [Mass GOP General Counsel] Vin DeVito looked at that room full of republican activists and defended his decision to discount that ballot, something inside of me died.
It was as if I joined this party for nothing, as if all of the apologies I accepted, all of the bridges I rebuilt, as if all of that was for absolutely nothing.
The difference between the incident in Tampa, and the feeling I have today, is that, in Tampa, I was genuinely confused for a little while. This morning, I am sincerely depressed. I am saddened. It is a unique and distinct kind of sadness.
The last time I felt this way was not on November 6th. No, the last time I experienced this feeling was on June 15th of this past summer, when I opened a letter informing me that I had been removed from the Massachusetts delegation to the Republican National Convention of 2012.
It’s getting really hard for me to defend my allegiance to this party, and that really does break my heart.
A fellow RMGer commented that “there are very many feeling exactly as Evan is feeling right now, and at many other various times in relation to this sort of treatment by the GOP. To ignore it is to further disengage an already barely surviving party.” Another says that he/she doesn’t know or care who is currently running the Mass. GOP, and advises that “you can lay the groundwork for a conservative/small government movement that the Massachusetts GOP should be doing (but is too lazy, fractionalized, agenda-less and otherwise f—ed up to do).”
It’s fair to say that Hughes has her work cut out for her, and that that work goes well beyond finding a plausible Senate candidate.
Nationally, today we read in the NY Times that the GOP’s big national donors are launching a concerted effort to fend off challenges to “establishment Republican candidates.”
In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election.
If I were a national Republican power broker, I’d be worried too about people like Richard Mourdock, Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle, all of whom lost eminently winnable races because, basically, they were not remotely ready for prime time. And yet, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz won Senate elections, so one is hard-pressed to say that extremely conservative candidates can’t win. And I would be really, really worried about setting up an internecine battle pitting the big-money establishment types against the grassroots, who tend to be more conservative. Disagree with them if you want, but if the grassroots stay home, you can’t win an election. And it seems to me that an excellent way to encourage the grassroots to stay home is to set up a big-money, Washington-based PAC to squash them with the apparent blessing of the national party.
So, whither the Republican grassroots, both here and around the country? I don’t know … what do you think?