Campaign Lessons from CA 36

Tom Donelson
May 27, 2011 Posted by Tom Donelson

Craig Huey

Craig Huey, Republican

While much of the political world gazed elsewhere, Californians from the 36th congressional district voted in a special election.  California has adopted a jungle style of primary, with the top two moving on to the general election and there were some good news and some lessons for conservatives. The good news is Republican candidate Craig Huey managed to make it through to the general election; thus giving the voters of the 36th District a real choice as oppose to a choice of which hard core lefty to send to Washington.  The second news is that Republican candidates attracted 41.4% of the vote, which represent significant growth from 2010 midterms.   Huey message was simple, government is too big and needs to be restrained and he found an audience even in a blue district.  It will be tough to win the general election against Janice Hahn but Huey and the rest of the Republicans showed that there are voters listening.
As one conservative strategist remarked to me, “If Craig Huey can stay the course on big government and defending the constitution he will be in good order.”  I will add that this was as much a victory for the grass roots as anything since the Party machinery appeared ineffective and Huey self-financed his campaign. (I will add that Americas PAC, which I head and Americas Majority Foundation were involved in the initial campaign with a small scale minority campaign.)  Bottom line lesson is that when the message of limited government is promoted hard, it can win.
Contrast that with what happened in New York 26th district where the Republican candidate Janice Corwin got defensive on defending the Ryan budget and allowed the narrative of why smaller government benefits her constituents get away from her. The Democrats are now campaigning hard against Ryan budget and targeting Republican seats now!  I have mention in the past that the Democrats are engaging into a strategy of the permanent campaign and in New York, introduce ads showing grandma literally being thrown off the cliff.
Paul Ryan
Congressman Paul Ryan
The proper strategy in California and elsewhere should be based on producing a conservative permanent campaign to counter the left.  One area to attack the left is through their base and forcing them to spend resources to defend their base.  One crucial base includes Hispanic and African-American voters and this base is vulnerable since they are the biggest victim of Obamanomics.  While Blacks still support Obama in great numbers, those numbers are down from 2008 and it doesn’t help that African-Americans have suffered as a group worse from the ill effects of Obamanomics.  Hispanics voters are disappointed with Obama’s lack of action on immigration reform and they too are hurt by Obamanomics as unemployment among Hispanics is substantially higher than white’s non-Hispanic workers.  Hispanics entrepreneurs are forming businesses at near record pace but their ability to grow their businesses are being compromised by Obama’s economic plan and with private jobs being created at a snail pace; destroying their opportunity to move up the economic ladder.  We have opportunities to make gains among minority voters and emphasize that the Republicans will be the Party of hope and change in 2012 since Obama’s vision of hope and change have produced nothing but unemployment and hopelessness.
Janice Hahn
Janice Hahn – Democrat
In the California 36th District, Asians make up a substantial demographics and many of these individual own their own businesses and looking to move up the economic ladder just as Hispanics, only to see those opportunities to be short circuited just like other minorities.  For Republicans, talk the American Dream and how those dreams are being turn into the American Nightmare of permanent welfare and underemployment by Obama and the Democrats.  Talk about how Democrats like Janice Hahn are more willing to align themselves with the leaders of Teachers’ Unions while fabric of LA education crumble; putting yet another obstacles in the way of many minorities to advance due to bad educational theories destroying the needed knowledge base to survive the 21st century.
What Republicans lost over the past month is the mantle of the party of reform.  The Ryan plan like other Republican ideas are designed to reform health care and over the long haul, put patients back in charge of their health care decisions.  We run Medicare just as it was still 1965 and system is on the verge of bankruptcy; leaving many seniors in the lurch now!  The Obama plan is for bureaucrats decide if grandma will be thrown off the cliff or simply left to die.  The Republicans ought to be able to win with that message!

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One Response to Campaign Lessons from CA 36

  1. Dave Burris on May 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    This is a bit of a stretch. Democrats took 1st, 3rd and 4th in the primary. The top Republican took 2nd by 709 votes to just barely make the general election ballot. Harman won the 2010 election with 59% of the vote; the Democrats combined had 56% of the primary votes this time.

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