Saturday, March 23, 2013

Established Candidates are Established for a Reason

Establishment candidates in and of themselves are not bad.

They are "Establishment" candidates for a reason.

They worked hard networking with other voters, with other politicians, with the correct interest groups.

They know how to campaign, they know how to organize outreach, and they know how to watch out for the better interests of their inner circle of supporters as well as for voters by and large in their constituencies.

This kind of managerial outreach cannot be done in a day, but occurs over time.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) learned from the sudden downfall of Bob Bennett in 2010, and he started shoring up his Tea Party credentials. He faced a minor challenger in the 2012 election, but he won a hefty majority vote after the primary, and he cruised to reelection.

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has raised the hackles of some Tea Party affiliates. He supported an establishment candidate  instead of Rand Paul, who ended up winning the nomination and the Senate seat in 2010, despite some missteps about the Civil Rights Act and his more libertarian views. McConnell since then reached out to his fellow Senator, shored up his credibility with the Tea Party as well as the statewide political apparatus. Taking no chances, McConnell has already aired television commercials, appealling to all Kentucky voters, gathering enough support so that even though some aggrieved Tea Party and Grassroots favorites may feel embittered about the fiscal cliff tax hikes, they can understand that he must respect tactics as well as tenets, principles and pragmatism together as Senate Minority Leader.

Established candidates are established for a reason. They know their audience, they know how to fight, they know how to form alliances, they know when to pick their fights, and when to draw down. The Tea Party and the Grassroots could learn a few things from the Establishment in the Republican Party. If anything is lacking now, it's the ground-game of pragmatic outreach which softens the image of the party and ingratiates as many as possible to join in, without giving the impression that no one really cares about the "little guy."

McConnell's fight and finances are just as important and Rand Paul's passion and Ted Cruz' fellowships and connections. Republicans are not at war with each other, they are simply learning to incorporate new moves into the dance, where everyone will be able to lead with their best foot forward.

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