Mississippi – They Don’t Call Them Rebels For Nothing

The state of Mississippi rebels against conventional wisdom by helping once politically dead Senator Thad Cochran secure the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Given that there was a higher turnout in the runoff than the primary (that almost never happens) the results show that Mississippians will vote with their pocket books like voters in the other 49 states.

What is surprising is that the Cochran campaign was able to expand the electorate to include GOP aligned voters who didn’t vote in the primary — and Democrats. In this case, Team Cochran, with former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour calling the shots, took a page from Barack Obama’s playbook.  The President’s team understood way back in 2007, when they were running against Hillary Clinton, that they could only win if they expand the voter base.  Ditto for Team Cochran in 2014.

But most of the kudos should go out to Haley Barbour who may be the smartest man in the state when it comes understanding Mississippi’s voters.  He instinctively knows that, given the chance these voters will keep someone in office, if they can deliver the goods.

The Cochran campaign made the case, and Haley and the ground crew just made sure voters showed up on Election Day.

Given that they had the cash to prosecute and implement their strategy, this was a case of textbook playbook, textbook execution = winning results.

 

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Jim Innocenzi

Founding Partner, Sandler-Innocenzi

705 Prince Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 684-0633

jim@sandler-innocenzi.com

 

Raul Labrador Not Your Average Rebel

Raul Labrador, the 2nd term Congressman from Idaho, is not your average rebel rouser masquerading as a Member of Congress on Capitol Hill these days.

In fact there is nothing you can say about Labrador that is average.

He’s Hispanic.  There aren’t many of those around the GOP caucus.

He was born in Puerto Rico, yet represents half the western “Gem” state.

And he is an articulate spokesperson to a new generation of Republican leaders, which is why you see him on the Sunday morning news shows.

Oh, and now he’s running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that it’s foolish to run against current Whip, Kevin McCarthy of California, who most believe has the Majority Leader’s post sewn up.  But Labrador doesn’t look at it that way.

(Full disclosure: Our firm produced Labrador’s campaign commercials the last two election cycles. I have some measure of the man.)

Labrador’s interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin last week gives us some insight.  When asked if he felt that there would be retribution from the leadership if he pursues Eric Cantor’s position, Labrador answered “No.”  For the cynics in Washington that is either a huge dose of naiveté, or a person who has totally lost touch with reality.

Actually it’s neither. Labrador is one of these rare birds who does things because he believes they are the right things to do.  Whether they are politically smart is left for others to decide, but for this Member of Congress, it’s a matter of conscience. And let’s remember, he is one of the few Members who sleeps in his Capitol Hill office to save living expenses.

As Labrador explained, to Levin, “I actually have a good relationship with Speaker Boehner…I had a life before Congress. I will have a life after Congress, a great family and live in a wonderful state.”  Labrador is running, as he puts it, because it is “time to change the way things are done in Washington.”

Those self-important people whose lips get cold kissing themselves in the mirror every day will say Labrador doesn’t understand how this town works. And perhaps they are correct.

But for those who dream of a better America it’s certainly refreshing.

 

Jim Innocenzi

Founding Partner, Sandler-Innocenzi

705 Prince Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 684-0633

jim@sandler-innocenzi.com

 

Latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals less than encouraging news if you are a Republican.  The problems for the GOP are not new and aren’t easily fixed.

The poll points out that the GOP has an image problem that is evident to the most casual observer.   When you lose a race for the White House the party gets painted with the same brush as the nominee.  We are now labeled as the party of the rich, and there is no short term solution for this.  The long term answer lies partly in who we pick as our next nominee. They will be the face of the party and he/she must articulate a positive, optimistic conservative vision that attracts voters to the GOP. When that occurs the goodwill generated from the nominee will spill over to the party.

The second problem with the Party according to the poll is that the country is in a different place than the GOP on issues.  Correct again.  Speaker Boehner and his new leadership team have an opportunity to hit the reset button. And they will. But frankly we need someone who can promote a conservative agenda in positive terms that voters can identify with.

Finally, the poll states that the GOP has a gender gap with women and, yes, it’s true, too.  The converse is also true:  the Democrats have a gender gap with men.  But the majority of voters in this country are female, which makes the GOP’s problem worse.  This is a messaging problem that won’t go away without some pushback from our elected officials. We need to drive a wedge between the democrats and female voters.  The issues are there, but we need to steal a page from their play book and balkanize female voters on issues they care about; the VA scandal and senior health care would be a good place to start.

Jim Innocenzi