Captain's Quarters Blog

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November 14, 2006
Pence, Shadegg, For Leadership

Republicans have to make some changes in order to rebuild trust with the American electorate. We have to understand who we are, what makes us Republicans, and how best to build a platform that will focus on those qualities and make them relevant for the largest possible number of voters. We need to agree on a set of First Principles that unite us and allow us to defend liberty, property, and our nation.

Under rational circumstances, we would have that debate and then select the leadership that would allow us to champion those policies. However, the Republican House leadership has decided to go backwards by selecting leadership first, on Friday, November 17th. Even stranger, the GOP has the same leadership that allowed the party to fritter away its majority in the lead for re-election to leadership.

John Boehner and Roy Blunt have been loyal Republican Congressmen. However, as the Club for Growth has noted, both men have been part of the efforts that have separated the GOP majority from its 1994 reformist roots. When Jeff Flake offered a score of anti-pork amendments in this session, both men voted to defeat all of them. Both men voted to approve the pork-laden Highway and Energy bills. Boehner has a better track record than Blunt; he opposed the BCRA in 2002, for instance. However, he has appeared ready to shift positions away from conservative principles for political expediency (on 527s, as CFG points out), not exactly the stalwart defenders of party policy that one expects from leadership.

Captain's Quarters endorses Mike Pence and John Shadegg for Minority Leader and Minority Whip. Both men voted for Jeff Flake's anti-pork amendments, and both men have a long track record of courageous defense of conservative principles. Both men opposed pork-laden appropriations, a stance that could have saved billions of dollars had the rest of the caucus followed suit. They will provide a new direction in leadership, one that leaves the failed and flawed leadership of the past behind and provide a new passion for reform in the Republican minority.

Republicans have a tougher choice to make for Conference Chair. All three candidates offer a chance for renewal. Jack Kingston has made it his mission to engage the blogosphere and to support reformist principles. Dan Lungren has long been a conservative stalwart from California, a difficult place for conservatives, as I well know. Marsha Blackburn has worked well as an assistant to Roy Blunt as Majority Whip, which comes with its own drawbacks. Either Kingston or Lungren would be good in this important position.

We need to offer voters a reason to rethink their disaffection from the Republican Party in 2006. While current leadership has performed competently at the day-to-day tasks, Republicans have to consider the significant symbolic value of our leadership choices. Re-electing the same leadership that lost the majority and dissipated the conservative mandate in an orgy of spending and lobbyist influence will send a message that the GOP wants to maintain business as usual. I do not believe that message will influence anyone to return to the GOP in 2008.

UPDATE AND BUMP TO TOP: As I wrote earlier, I have not had time to do much research on Lungren and Kingston. One commenter from California says that Lungren supports abortion rights and gun control, which would definitely throw my support to Kingston, if true.

UPDATE II: How important is replacing current leadership with fresh faces and reform-minded Republicans? Think Harriet Miers squared. Make no mistake about this -- the GOP had better be prepared to make changes, or they will retreat farther into irrelevancy in 2008.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 14, 2006 7:00 AM

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» PENCE AND SHADEGG from Texas Hold 'Em Blogger
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