November 10, 2008
Republican recriminations

Gary Polland used to be the chair of the Harris County GOP. He's not too happy with the result from Tuesday and he's letting everyone know it.

The Harris County GOP under Chairman Jared Woodfill failed because it had the wrong message or no message. It failed because it tried to sell a discredited brand, it had no war room to counter the media and Democratic echo chambers about real or imagined GOP scandals and it failed to tell the rest of the story about the success of Harris County government under GOP rule (yes, there was a story to be told).

As for the local judiciary, the campaign was subcontracted out to political consultant/lobbyist Allen Blakemore by Chairman Jared Woodfill (Blakemore's reign of error is detailed in another article), which is unfortunate since one of the most capable political operatives around, Jeff Yates, was serving as Executive Director of the Harris County GOP and knew what to do, but was never given a chance.

The joint judicial campaign was an expensive failure primarily because it was selling a brand, "Republican Judges", to a dissatisfied electorate that was not buying. What is unfortunate and TCR can now report there was another plan presented last year to Chairman Woodfill and rejected (probably on Blakemore's instructions).

This plan would have presented the highly qualified and experienced GOP judges in a way to encourage voters to split their ticket or to vote straight GOP down ballot. So what was the plan? Bold and simple.

1. Put a face on the judiciary and countywide GOP officeholders and tell the story of individual judges and candidates and how they are making a difference.

2. Define the opposition. Do you know what that $1.5 million campaign had nothing about? The number of under-qualified Democrats on the ballot. We could have made them the face of the Democratic ticket. We also should have done that on the weaker countywide Democrats, which by the way was only seen in the last week to ten days in the Sheriff's race.

3. Set up a war room team to rapidly respond to Democratic media attacks and to tell "the rest of the story."

4. Ensure key officeholders have television training, so we would not have been "trapped" like a deer in headlights in interview after interview as we were.

5. Redeveloping the strong precinct chair system and empowering them with resources and matching public officials to precincts as a team-up approach for getting out the vote.

6. Finally, create a Compact with Harris County, five things the GOP and its candidates promise to do to make our county a better place if elected.

It sure is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, isn't it? There is, of course, no way to know if this alternate reality would have held down GOP losses as Polland says it would have done or if that's just wishful thinking. Woodfill will be up for re-election as GOP chair in the 2010 primary, so those who agree with Polland can certainly express their opinion at that time. The thing that really amuses me about this list is the "Compact with Harris County", which is just so 1994. Not to put too fine a point on it, but with the sole exception of Pat Lykos, every single countywide Republican on the ballot was already holding the office they sought. If they had some kind of magic five-point plan to make Harris County a better place, what was stopping them from implementing it right away? Color me unimpressed.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 10, 2008 to Election 2008
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