I knew this day was coming and have held my tongue and played the good “team player” game. Well, being a “team player” didn’t sit well with me and now here we are.
All the way back in February and March of 2010, several people, very prominent in the Conservative movement and the Republican Party, met with Chris Dudley and his campaign staff. These people spoke very clearly to Mr. Dudley. He was advised, urgently, to “get rid of those people”. Of course “those people” were the Gordon Smith insiders including Dan Lavey and Kerry Timchuck. Later, Brittany Brammel and LeRoy Coleman and other “outsiders”.
To their faces, they were told that they could not win this election, that Chris had to surround himself with Oregonians, and especially Oregonians who understand Oregon, not just the Portland Metro area. Chris was told during several long meetings, before the primary mind you, that he had a real chance to win if he listened now! Chris chose to go with the plan they had laid out for him and now we see the results.
Chris Dudley was a creation of Gordon Smith insiders who left Oregon after Gordon lost but came back to “create” another moderate candidate for office. Now, these same people will go back to D.C., with a little bit more money in their pocket, a little smudge against their pride but nothing else will change in their lives, yet they leave us in this mess!
The Libertarian (limited government) and Constitution (far right conservative) candidates each pulled more votes than the margin of victory for Kitzhaber. I had to explain on many occasion after the primary to my friends, family and radio listeners, that Dudley would be surrounded by good Republicans after the election and to take comfort in that. Why did I have to explain it that way? Because person after person was concerned about Dudley’s moderate to liberal stance on everything except fiscal issues. I am afraid that many of those same people either voted for the “other party” candidates or they left the Governor unchecked on their ballot.
We have tried again and again to win with moderate candidates from the Portland business crowd who promise solid fundraising. This year, we had the establishment GOP candidate, and he lost against the most complete insider, old way of government liberal in a year in which the entire Nation was in the midst of a true Conservative tidal wave of support, and they swept in limited government insurgent outsiders while we here in Oregon are left with Kitzhaber.
One thing that this election showed is that money alone will not win a statewide Republican race (same in California). It will take a good ground game with really energized folks. Those folks just could not “pull the lever” for Chris Dudley.
Instead of trying to please the middle, instead of trying to sound like you are not going to make any waves and play nice with the folks who have dug Oregon into this hole, what the Dudley campaign should have said is: “this State requires a complete makeover and I will be the one to do that even if it means only one term, I will stick to Conservative principles and will surround myself with strong Conservatives and I will not sleep until Oregon is the back in the condition it deserves to be in. That means that some old pictures are going to fall off of the wall.”
People will vote Republican if a Republican articulates a strong and exciting limited government message. A message delivered with a sense of commitment and passion.
Most of all, in the next gubernatorial primary, the Republicans should run a true Conservative, stop pandering to the Portland crowd and Republican voters should listen less to the folks with all the money and more to the candidates who run on a limited government message, and stay true to our Conservative ideals, the ones that made America a strong refuge.