Picking the next RNC chair

After weeks of speculation, SCGOP Chair Katon Dawson announced he's in the running for the RNC chairmanship.

The chair of the RNC will face the toughest challenge since Haley Barbour was named to this post in the wake of Clinton's ouster of President George Bush back in 1993. A year after his appointment, the GOP was riding a building wave of electoral fortune that would sweep the Democrats from Congress to county courthouses, wiping away decades of electoral decay. Barbour was a key player - a smart tactician with good political skills, sharp communication abilities, and a good coalition builder with a keen eye for the sensibilities of both the party's base and the swing voters who seated Clinton in 1992 and then unseated his party from Congressional power.

Regaining power will require the GOP to recapture the support of swing voters, which was key to the 1994 electoral sweep. In some regards, today's swing voters share similarities with swing voters of the mid-90s, fiscally conservative, politically independent, concerned about ethical government, and often live in the same states. In other regards, they are very different voters - many of them are educated and hold down white collar occupations. They are far more diverse ethnically and while they don't like excessive taxation, they're concerned about the size of the national debt and support reasonable taxation - with accountability for results. They often go to church with their family and believe faith is important in their lives, but they're not flaming social conservatives.

Our next RNC chair needs to understand how these voters tick, look for the common threads between them and the GOP, and look for how they can be weaved into the fabric of a revitalized GOP majority. Then they need to be able to make the tough decisions necessary to keep the GOP in the fight until electoral trends allow the GOP to mount a comeback.

While Haley Barbour was able to mount this bid, we've seen both here and abroad where other dethroned conservative parties failed to get the messages delivered by the voters, and spent years in the wilderness for doing so. The British Conservative Party failed to figure out how return to power and, four leaders later, may finally end a record-length Labor majority that has lasted nearly a decade and a half. Republicans can choose to make the same kinds of mistakes, or choose leaders and positions which help pave the way for a 1994-style comeback.

The 2010 elections will require the GOP to defend a number of governorships and avoid further Congressional losses. Several open gubernatoral seats currently held by Democrats in traditionally GOP states and a number of Democratic House members in their first or second terms in historically-GOP seats may be vulnerable to the midterm swing effect. The right leadership could help capitalize on these opportunities, but the wrong leadership could help the Democrats lock in their majority for a decade or more.

We're going to be watching the candidates and for what little it may be worth, sharing our opinion about which candidate is best suited to help the GOP make a strong comeback in 2010 and 2012.

3 Response to "Picking the next RNC chair"

  1. somewhere in augusta 25/11/08 22:09
    Do you think Katon is the man
  2. the greenville county person 28/11/08 16:55
    so is rick beltram going to take katon dawson place bubba
  3. Nancy Corbin 3/12/08 21:38
    Katon Dawson fosters the "good old boy, look the other way" brand of leadership. His refusal to help resolve the Berkeley County problems and not insisting that county leaders follow the State laws and Party rules shows me he is not the person to rebuild our party. I feel strongly that what is happening in Berkeley County only scratches the surface of the cover ups and back room deals that plague this state. We need people with integrity - and from my vantage point he lacks it.

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