David McGowan of Las Vegas is a graduate of Louisiana State University. He is President of the 525 Group, and has extensive experience in grassroots GOTV programs. He previously served as GOP Political Director for Clark County. His past clients include Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). He was named Clark County Republican of the Year for his work on the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign. In 2010 he served as the campaign manager for Congressional candidate Michele Fiore (R-NV), and has considerable experience in coping with a Nevada GOP which has been fractured, outnumbered and outspent by Democrats.
Debate: Does The GOP Have Room For Moderates — David McGowan vs. Gregory Hilton
McGOWAN: According to the most recent polls, the battle for the U.S. Senate is now deadlocked at 50 – 50 between Republicans and Democrats. We need to push hard for that 51st seat.
HILTON: We had the 51st seat in Delaware, but that has now gone to the Democrats. Perhaps Joe Lieberman will be your 51st seat.
McGOWAN: Another possibility is former State Senator Dino Rossi (R) who is challenging Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). I think Republicans will win that seat but sorry I agree with vote against Castle!
HILTON: Dino Rossi would be wonderful. In this Congress we lost ObamaCare and extension of the Bush tax cuts by one vote. In the next Congress every time we lose by one vote I will send you a note: “Mike Castle would have voted with us.” He always was with Republicans when his vote was needed. I think Christine O’Donnell is an embarrassment but it is not worth discussing. The Democrats have already won Delaware.
McGOWAN: Like Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins our two RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) from the Northeast? His conservative ranking is nearly the same as theirs. I dont see him moving to the Senate and becoming Jim DeMint (R-SC). He would be worried from day one about being moderate enough to get re-elected. Why is she an embarrassment? Because the main steam media say so?
HILTON: You have named the only two GOP Senators who have ACU ratings less than 65%. There are very few RINOs left. Instead of RINOs, you should be referring to RIMO’s (Republicans in Maine Only). I will give Snowe and Collins credit for sticking with us on some difficult votes such as ObamaCare. Mike Castle is a moderate, and 65% is a lot better than zero. This is Joe Biden’s seat, Obama easily won Delaware and it is a blue sate.
O’Donnell is an embarrassment because she lied about attending Princeton, Oxford and Claremont. She is 41 and received her college degree this year. She has told far too many lies and that is why she has gone into hiding since winning the primary.
Because of O’Donnell, conservatives will probably be denied control of Congress. Because of O’Donnell, the Delaware campaign is focused on topics such as masturbation, premarital sex, evolution, witchcraft and exotic religious beliefs. Her opponent is awful and I hope she wins, but her negative rating is far too high and the Democrats have far too much ammunition to defeat her.
McGOWAN: Since I only go after Republicans on their voting records. I will not give Senators Snowe and Collins credit for voting for the porkulus bill. Didn’t Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) use procedural maneuvers to stop a final cloture vote on Oamacare that saved them a vote on that? Republicans have risen to greatness through solid conservatism.
Some examples are Ronald Reagan, the first 4 years of George W. Bush’s administration, Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America in 1994. We lost that greatness by catering to the moderate wing of the party as represented by George H.W. Bush, the last four years of the George W. Bush administration, and the House of Representatives under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).
If there was a true watershed moment in the Senate such as the repeal of Obamacare, would you really trust Castle to be the tie breaking vote? I wish every Republican candidate was perfect, but absent that I do insist they be conservative. As for the tone of the Delaware campaign. It is focused on topics such as masturbation, premarital sex, evolution, witchcraft and exotic religious beliefs because the main stream media knows if they let it be about jobs, the economy, and government spending, Coons would lose. So its circle the wagons time.
HILTON: I will try to answer your questions and observations.
1) Obama received almost 60% of the vote in Maine. It is a difficult state for Republicans to carry, but it still has two GOP Senators. Senator Snowe will definitely have a primary in 2012.
2) Reagan supported the election of Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) who was far more liberal than Snowe. Hatfield was awful but he allowed the GOP to have control of the Senate during the first six years of the Reagan administration. Nothing positive happened in the final two years when Democrats took over.
3) Harry Reid never talks to Republicans and has run the Senate by a series of cloture motions to end debate. Fortunately the election of moderate conservative Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) changed everything.
4) ObamaCare passed the Senate with 60 votes. This would not have happened after Scott Brown’s election.
5) The Senate outlook for the GOP is excellent in both 2012 and 2014. If you really want to change the country significantly a super majority (60 seats) is necessary. I do not think that is out of the question, but you can forget about it if you attack the few remaining Republican moderates in blue states. Many solid conservatives have gone down to overwhelming defeats in those states.
6) Castle has an 18 year track record on Capitol Hill to demonstrate that he votes with the GOP when he is needed.
7) I do not believe in a litmus test for GOP candidates. Right now not one Republican represents any of the six New England states in the House of Representatives. The GOP suffered huge losses in 2006 and 2008 in the Big 10 conference states of the Midwest. Those are difficult states for Republicans to win. A moderate conservative is far better than a liberal, and Republicans have been wise to nominate gubernatorial candidates such as Rick Snyder (PA) and Tom Corbett (PA).
8) Christine O’Donnell went on national television to talk about those topics. The GOP would be running attack ads against Chris Coons (D-DE) if we had him saying silly things on TV. I am not blaming the media. I am blaming Christine O’Donnell. Once again, it is not worth discussing. Delaware has already flipped from safe Republican to safe Democrat.
McGOWAN: In guess I am naive. I think we build the Republican Party by converting people to conservatism. Not by finding people willing to pretend to be conservative to win races. Do you really believe Senators Snowe and Collins and Congressman Castle believe in limited government, low taxes, personal responsibility, and other core GOP beliefs? We were told we would never have a Republican Governor in New Jersey, or a Republican Senator in Pennsylvania.
Look what has happened. Chris Christie was elected, and Pat Toomey (R-PA) will win this November. They ran strong conservative campaigns. They didn’t play hide n seek with their beliefs. Conservative movements are breaking free in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and even New York. We need to build on a solid base. We should not find liberals who pretend they are Republican. I disagreed with Hatfield back then. I also think we missed great chances in Michigan and Pennsylvania to put in strong conservatives. One persons litmus test is another persons standards.
HILTON: You are wrong again. Senators Snowe and Collins are fine on economic issues. Their 2009 rating from the Chamber of Commerce is 86%. Rep. Castle has an 83%. They are not social conservatives, but neither is Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). I wish they had 100% ratings, but the Democratic alternatives are zeros.
How is your recruitment to conservatism going in blue state? Unfortunately, not too well over the past decade. There are now 26 states that do not have solid conservatives in statewide office. That is why major portions of the Obama agenda passed.
Do you really believe hard core conservatives can win in some blue states? Senator Scott Brown voted against us on the Financial Reform bill, but this was Ted Kennedy’s seat. Would you rather have Scott Brown who votes with us 80% of the time or a liberal Democrat who never votes with us?
More importantly, Scott Brown ended the Democrats super majority. Reid can no longer govern by cloture motions. Senators Norm Coleman (MN), Gordon Smith (OR), Slade Gorton (WA), Ted Stevens (AK) and Elizabeth Dole (NC) were all moderate conservatives. If one of them had been re-elected there would have been no ObamaCare.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) is a moderate Republican who enthusiastically endorsed and campaigned for Mike Castle. Christie selected a pro-abortion running mate. There are many conservatives who do not like Christie, but I am not one of them.
I hope some of your observations about the blue states you listed are correct, and of course this is a highly unusual year. The Obama agenda is being rejected across the nation.
If Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R-CA) wins, she will be the first pro-life Republican to carry her state in a long time. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) could win a Senate seat but he is definitely a moderate.
You are talking about finding liberal Republicans, but any list of them would be very small. If you use the ACU ratings, Olympia Snowe is the only liberal Republican left. Furthermore, on practically every close vote in the 111th Congress, GOP moderates did not bolt from the conservative position.
The times they bolted, such as cap and trade, was when they were not needed. The GOP was completely united on ObamaCare. I was disappointed Mike Castle did not vote with us on cap and trade, but we were not going to win that vote. By voting for Christine O’Donnell, Delaware Republicans gave their Senate seat to the Democrats. You are fighting an imaginary enemy.
You are welcome to establish your own standards but Reagan clearly did not agree with you. He wanted a GOP Senate majority. The third party conservatives who provided the margin of victory for the opponents of Senators Slade Gorton, Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman are responsible for the passage of ObamaCare. Similar to you, they were not willing to compromise, so the liberal Democrats triumphed and Al Franken is now in the Senate. Your litmus test could well keep the GOP from winning a super majority in 2014 and bringing the dramatic change the nation truly needs.
McGOWAN: Senators Snowe and Collins voted for stimulus and you consider them fine on fiscal issues?
HILTON: Castle did not vote for the Stimulus, but Senators Snowe and Collins did. That is why they lost 14% on the Chamber rating. That was a terrible vote and in fact it is hard to think of a worse vote.
Scott Brown was wrong to vote against us on Financial Regulations, Norm Coleman was wrong on Iraq, and Gordon Smith was one of the most prominent GOP supporters of gay marriage. All of them were far better than the alternative. This is a wonderful year for Republicans but it is doubtful the GOP Senate candidate in Oregon will win.
McGOWAN: I knew Castle voted against stimulus. Thanks for a great debate. I love talking politics. You gave me a lot to think about. I have been debating leaving the party for awhile. Voting for my first ever Independent American and Libertarian candidates this year. Maybe you and my son are right. I am what’s wrong with the Republican Party. He is on your side. We will see. Hard to believe the party has room for Susan Collins and not David McGowan. But things change. I still believe only solid conservative ideals can save this country.
HILTON: The Republican Party definitely has room for David McGowan and Senator Susan Collins, and we need both to obtain a conservative majority. This will be accomplished by tolerating our differences.
Ronald Reagan often spoke of his “big-tent” philosophy for the Republican Party. The big tent includes social conservatives, national security conservatives, economic conservatives and moderates. There are very few liberals. Reagan wanted the GOP to be a party where many would be welcome even if they weren’t always in agreement on every issue. Reagan campaigned for many candidates he did not agree with.
He said “somebody who agrees with you 80% of the time is an 80% friend, not a 20% enemy.” We have to be a party that is about addition and not subtraction. Elections are not won by the GOP base, they are won by appealing to independents.
The 2008 Republican Platform and the 2010 Pledge to America are very conservative documents. Moderates had no impact on them. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are pro-choice Republicans, but the party will not change its pro-life outlook because of them. We hope moderate and liberal Republicans will be persuaded to accept the platform, but if not, the Maine Senators have not done anything to moderate the GOP’s outlook.