Moving Forward Together: Making the Grand Compromise Successful

By: Chip Muir and Dan Webb

Recently, the two of us have discussed the need to move together in the same direction. When we discussed that, we always meant the Republican Party of Virginia and the individuals who embody it. We didn’t think that togetherness would involve the extensive hospitalization of our respective fathers in the time surrounding the State Central meeting, but the personal background to the meeting reaffirmed our commitment to the need for positive and constructive political activity. As we talked in the days leading up to the meeting, and after the results of the vote were known, we discussed the importance of giving more people more wins, of translating hard work into results, and most importantly, maintaining our commitment to the compromise. This op-ed focuses on the work that Virginia Republicans can begin doing now so that we can win the Presidency and the Governor’s office. RPV’s big issues have been decided. The months of July and August serve as our window of opportunity to produce the results that will work towards a change in attitude in our party, to restore our faith and trust in each other, and, quite honestly, to get our swagger back.

What defines success for the rest of 2015?

A successful 2015 means two things: First, Republican majorities in the Senate and in the House of Delegates, and second, that the party functions better. Those are two broad and obvious goals, and so the real work is in the details.

Spiritually, we need to restore trust in our fellow Republicans. Over the weekend, people on either side of the nomination divide antagonized each other. When people work hard and strongly believe in their political causes (here, convention vs. primary), and fall just short of winning, there are hard feelings. We can accept that. But we can’t accept celebrations from the prevailing side that taunt and antagonize the other. We are Republicans, and we have to be better than that. The intention of the compromise has always been to take the issue off the table, and bridge the divide between the factions, and that doesn’t happen with antagonizing commentary. We need to all be bigger people. No one likes a compromise, much less loves one. Compromises are made out of necessity to accomplish a bigger goal, and we all need to focus on those bigger goals going forward.

We can do that by making the compromise a success. In the coming months, the Young Republicans will begin working with the Presidential campaigns to secure all candidates slots on the 2016 Primary ballot. The more candidates that qualify for the ballot, the more successful the primary will be. The more candidates, the larger the voter turnout; the larger the voter turnout, the more data collected in preparation for November 2016. And it really won’t take much work. Our local clubs do a great job of hosting local events. The Young Republicans will be encouraged to host these same events but with the added feature of gathering signatures for the ballot. Each Presidential candidate needs 5,000 signatures (6,500 to be safe), with at least 200 from each of the 11 Congressional districts. We want the YR clubs to put on events that will build their membership, draw crowds for our candidates up for election this year, and serve our Presidential contenders. We want the YR clubs to invite each Presidential campaign to a kickoff event, run by their membership, where they invite the general public (including non-partisan groups, like young professional groups), to sign petitions for candidates. The people that come will have contact information collected by our clubs. This idea makes it easier for our candidates to qualify for the ballot, builds our YR groups, and also engages Republicans in constructive work. This work will be used to complement our efforts in retaining and growing a Republican Majority in the Virginia Senate. Step one to a successful 2015 begins with quick and easy Presidential qualification.

We also need to make sure that the people coming to sign these petitions meet their General Assembly candidates. Winning the Senate for the GOP is absolutely essential for the health of Virginia’s budget, to continue marginalizing our current Governor, and making sure that good legislation passes through both chambers. If we win the Senate, we can continue blocking deficit-creating Medicaid expansion, pass through a Charter School Amendment, and, as we learned last year, just flat out have a smoothly run government. We can start bringing people into our General Assembly campaigns by getting them interested in the Presidential campaign, and that starts with petition signatures.

We (RPV) need to raise money, and we need to do it for two purposes. First, we need to continue the progress RPV has been making financially. The more RPV can reduce its debt burden, the more they can spend on building the infrastructure it will take to win in the next three Novembers. We need to “free up cap space” for the party to make the moves they need, and that means reducing, and then eliminating our debt. A financially-secure RPV will produce electoral victories in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Almost as importantly, we (the authors) are committed to the compromise. That means delivering on the 2017 portion of the compromise, the Gubernatorial convention. We (RPV) need to open the lockbox account, receive donations into it, and make sure that, in the spring of 2016, the current SCC can secure convention space for the 2017 convention. We can do this if the money is there, so we need to move forward with raising money for that purpose. We are confident that SCC will honor its commitment, but we would both feel much better if a financial commitment accompanied it. It is absolutely imperative that we honor our commitments, which will not only make RPV more effective, but improve the morale and change the culture associated with our Party.

Lastly, the sniping at each other and at RPV needs to stop. If we want to actually win elections in the coming months we need a healthy RPV, and taking cheap shots is certainly not helpful. We (party activists) need each other to win, and to that end, making personal attacks is absolutely counterproductive. We know that everyone on each side of the issue wants to see electoral success. Let’s keep that objective at the forefront of our minds when making decisions.

We (the authors) firmly believe that if we do the work on these matters over the next two months, that come Labor Day, Virginia Republicans will be in a much better position to win the race to 21 Senate seats. We will have reduced the infighting, raised money, collected more data, generated excitement for the Primary, helped our Presidential candidates in Virginia, and symbolically shown that the work of the Party is to work.

How can you help?

No matter your reason for involvement in Republican politics, you’re in a position to advance the Republican Party. Here are suggestions of how you can get involved and do productive work to advance your particular cause, while advancing the party as a whole.

If you’re interested in national politics and in winning the White House in 2016: lead the drive to gather petitions. Work with your local YR club, GOP committee, etc., to put together the centralized petition signing drive. Assemble a roster of groups to reach out to, plan attractions to drive attendees to the event, line up the volunteers (through the campaigns) to organize the signatures, and so on. You will have advanced the Party’s strength in Virginia by building a more robust primary, and be sure to invite Republican candidates for local office to these events.

If you’re interested in national politics, and in one specific Presidential candidate: Contact that Presidential campaign and find out how you can be involved. Collect signatures for that candidate. Go into areas where Republicans have not traditionally gone and make inroads. To win in 2016, we need as many Republicans to make as many contacts with as many individuals as we can. Do that for your favorite candidate, we really do not care which one, and start building a base of support for him or her.  Our proposal included a complete pro rata distribution of delegates. The more votes your candidate receives, the more Virginia delegates he or she receives to take to Cleveland. Get your petition signatures, get on the ballot, get your votes…and get your delegates.

If you’re a pro-convention person: Make sure we honor the 2017 convention portion of the compromise. Talk up the need to donate money to the special account that will be used for the convention. Get people interested in the convention. They will be our future delegates, our future organizers, our future volunteers. Yes, we have two election cycles to go until we get to 2017, but it’s never too early to begin working. Our goal is to pay for our convention entirely out of savings, with no debt incurred whatsoever, and to be able to keep substantial profits from enormous revenues. If your single most important RPV issue is to have conventions, start laying the groundwork for our most successful convention now.

When we advanced our idea for a compromise, we repeatedly touted the importance of focusing on winning. We did not mean having one side of the party win over the other side, and we cannot stress enough that we must move past that mentality. When we said winning, we meant winning November elections. There are 494 days (as of July 2) until the Presidential election, and it is never too early to start working to win. The Washington Post wrote that the Republicans won Round One of the Presidential election in Virginia. If we follow this plan, there will be more wins to come.

Chip Muir is the 3rd district Rep on Virginia’s Republican State Central Committee and is the Chairman of the Republican Committee of Richmond. Dan Webb is the Chairman of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia.