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"Elections 2006 Lessons Learned" (Nov. 2006)

TMJ
Terri McCormick
Thoughts on the Fall Elections
Rep. Terri McCormick
November 2006

It would appear that republicans across the country were sent an ‘undeniable message’ this election cycle. Unfortunately, for many of us in the GOP, Bob Woodward was right. Our party has not only been living in a ‘state of denial,’ we continue to do so post election.

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds the day after our party’s “thumpin” stated, “I did everything I was supposed to do. There was nothing I could have done differently. It was the ‘sour mood of the public.’ I spent over $80 million dollars on republicans. It was the war’s fault, it was the president’s fault.”

Reynolds not only missed the point underscored by the American voters on November 7th of this year, but he demonstrated his inability to take responsibility for his arrogance and lack of connection with the American people.

I believe that we as republicans must stop whining about the outcome, and hold ourselves accountable for the results. How can we possibly be entrusted to lead when we so clearly have no ideas or connection with the American people. The step is to stand up and dust ourselves off and to admit we have a problem.

The Road to Republican Recovery can only begin with an honest assessment of what really happened. This assessment must include a healthy dialogue with the people in our districts that we hope to represent – people who are very much alive and well in the election process.

The people are demanding that bills pass, like the Government Accountability Board (SB 1) Ethics Reform. That bill that I co authored and fought so hard for was not allowed up for a vote. Every editorial board in the state urged the WI Assembly to take up SB 1, a bill that would hold legislators to the same legal standard as every citizen in our state.

Furthermore, the people are demanding that their representatives move past posturing and bickering and take up the tough issues of the day – real reforms for health care costs, a solid plan for national security and the War in Iraq.

What I took away from my republican primary election for congress, can be summed up very quickly. The party elites can not interfere with the will of the people. Interfering in the primary elections for governor and congress in the state of Wisconsin had repercussions.

I have learned that fear won in the republican primary for the 8th Congressional district. Fear that money could buy the seat, fear with going against party elites who dictated their choices, fear that the voters were incapable of choosing the right candidates.

The 2006 fear campaign translated into one big slap in the face for the voters who reside in this state. Many of whom, were U.S. Military veterans who fought for our freedoms to hold open democratic elections.

Fear forced a suppressed voter turnout in the September Primary Elections, which spilled over into a large and angry voter turnout in the November General Election. It became abundantly clear – that money pouring in – in the truckloads from parts unknown translated into negative and hateful advertising on television screens across this state and nation.

The results were quite different than the political hacks anticipated. The people showed up in November. Fortunately or unfortunately depending upon your perspective, the people won in the general election because they showed up in record numbers.

Conservative Voters turned out in record numbers to overwhelmingly vote for 2 referendums that were decidedly conservative in nature. What this says is simple:
The conservatives turned out to vote in record numbers. And, they had no republican candidates to vote for. Why?

I believe the exit polls, by CSPAN and the Democracy Campaign, were right on the mark. The overwhelming and overriding issue in the state and federal elections was ethics. The people lost trust in the majority party to do anything about the corruption that plagued both the Wisconsin State Legislature and the US Congress.

Leadership on both levels of government in the republican party failed to clean up their act. On the state level with SB 1 (the government accountability board bill), – and the federal level U.S. Congress with its ever growing list of convicted republican felons. The hypocrisy of being in leadership positions and doing nothing --- yet running for higher republican office in this state angered the Wisconsin voter.

We must begin again, as republicans by defining the problems that have surfaced in this election. And we must admit that the only wave out there is the wave of public opinion demanding change. The people will be watching both political parties in this state and in congress during the next 2 years to make sure the message was received on November 7th, 2006.

Ironically, Republican elites in Washington DC called this election cycle the ‘Road to Victory.’ Their Road to Victory had Road to Victory Funds for chosen primary candidates before the primary vote. Washington and Madison elites forgot one very important piece in their victory plan, the people – you don’t win elections in a free nation without the will of the people.

It might take a general election to prove that point, but eventually – the will of the people can be heard loud and clear. It is my hope that we as a nation remember, money does not decide political races, the people do.


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