February 24, 2017 8:30 AM
Joe Pettit has been active in Georgia Republican circles for years, and has a long view that’s been seasoned by years in the trenches. As GOP convention season gets underway, he’s offering some advice -and some unexpected praise -here it is:
The odd compulsion to attend several boring Republican meetings is tugging at me again. Three out of every four years in Georgia, we have a convention process, in which party insiders pick the party leadership at various levels.
Each time “convention season” rolls around, I am forced anew to think of what what an effective party structure looks like. This year I’ve pinpointed some things that I think are fundamental:
1. The party needs to be the strongest fundraiser in the state. A particular US Senator or Governor may be able to dwarf the party at times, but the party needs to hold its own. As such, the party organization needs to be a calming factor in the business community, and it needs to be run with efficiency. If businesses think the party is going to turn on them, or if they see the party wasting money on staff and ineffective events, they won’t give the party money.
2. The party needs to spend money! Where should the party spend most of its money? Simple: general election candidates. A sharp staff is necessary, and any real organization needs well paid employees; however, there should be no question as to whether or not the staff is draining the party resources, or running the organization into debt.
3. Another place where the party should expend resources is effective training for volunteers and and local leaders. This shouldn’t be a huge portion of the budget, but it should take place. Once general election candidates are chosen, and the state party begins allocating funds, the local leaders and volunteers need to be effective instruments in the pursuit of electing republican candidates.
4. I also think there should be budget transparency, even if it is only in a general sense. The way to get people (corporations are people too, right?) to trust an organization is to let them see that there is a budget to which the organization is adhering.
The best recent examples of these principles I’ve outlined do not lie with the state party. There are many wonderful organizations around the state, but I’m going to brag on Fulton County:
Not only did Fulton work hard with countless voter contacts to elect the current president, they also identified a race that that statewide implications, and spent a good bit of money in the general election to help flip House District 80.
This is exactly how political parties need to respond to general election candidates in their purview.
The odd compulsion to attend party meetings is a part of who I am. That said, I haven’t seen what I described in action in a long time. The party keeps digging itself into bigger holes, while taking credit for a Republican electorate that doesn’t know anything about the party structure, nor have those voters been touched by that party structure.
This year, if I give into my habit, I will have no problem voicing a vote of no confidence, if I believe I’m once again stuck between the lesser of two evils.