New Faces Launch GOP Efforts In 2010
Rising GOP stars Ryan Frazier, Josh Penry, and Cory Gardner highlight the new crop of Republicans vying for candidacy and a broader appeal to youth beginning in 2010:
Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, 31, has wowed Colorado Republicans at county events in the past few weeks and just recently met with the National Republican Senatorial Committee about a possible run against newly-appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Frazier might not have a wealth of experience yet, but neither does Bennet, the 44-year-old former Denver superintendent of schools, a political neophyte.How will the GOP accomplish that? Here's a start:
Frazier has appealed to the party's business base, being one of the driving forces behind last year's failed ballot measure prohibiting mandatory union fees as a condition of employment.
The councilman, who is African-American, said the party needs to show voters it's diverse in "thought, ethnicity and socioeconomics" and make room for disagreement, especially on social issues.
"We need to let people know that we are the party that wants people to have more freedom in how they live their lives and spend their own money — live and let live," he said. "We can keep government involvement, even in people's social lives, to the lowest practical level."
Brett Moore, political director of the Metro Denver Young Republicans, echoed Frazier's philosophy to focus less on social issues, noting his peers are concentrating on fiscal conservatism, free markets, jobs and other core GOP values.That's Denver Metro Young Republicans.
"Everyone comes together on those issues," said Moore, 28. "On other things — gay marriage, abortion, the more socially charged issues — we need to find a way to work together while letting people have other viewpoints."
Messaging is one thing--message delivery in the digital era means adding more tools to the arsenal to do everything from fundraising to volunteering to getting-out-the-vote:
More attention on a Ronald Reagan-esque message of personal liberty and rugged individualism is critical in addressing younger voters, said state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction. With a whole generation of voters, however, who weren't alive during Reagan's presidency, his themes may be more important to stress than the man himself.Social networking is no replacement for pounding the pavement, but ignoring online activism, blogging, Twitter, YouTube, etc. rather than incorporating these new technologies has been disastrous to Republicans of late, especially in Colorado.
"We have to keep things relevant. And those messages are no less appealing now than they were in the past," said Penry, 33, who is considering a run for governor.
Often joking that he is the first Republican Senate leader to own an iPod, Penry said the party must also do a better job at message delivery: Internet, text messages, e-mail, blogs, YouTube, podcasts.
But old-fashioned outreach is also critical, said state Rep. Cory Gardner, a 34-year-old Republican from Yuma who is expected to run for the 4th District congressional seat in 2010.
"In the past, we as Republicans have avoided the younger age groups," he said. "We can't be afraid to go to college campuses and other places and talk about things that matter."
And no, the GOP doesn't need to be more "moderate" despite what Pat Waak says.
And it is not just technology:
"We have to project, frankly, what President Obama projected: the future. We must recruit candidates that appeal to younger voters. That's one of our greatest challenges," said GOP chairman Dick Wadhams.The strongest possible statewide candidate should win the primary in contested races (Senate and Governor), and not simply be rewarded for "paying dues." Republican grassroots activists aren't interested in pouring time, money, and efforts into another double-digit loss statewide, and we're pretty sure cautious state donors and cash-strapped national organizations won't hesitate to pull back should the GOP candidate fail to build his or her own strong local base.
But to appeal to younger voters, does the party need younger candidates? Not necessarily.
"We need a combination of those who have served and won in the past and the new blood that is clearly moving up the ladder," said former Republican Gov. Bill Owens.
But until we have a primary in any race, the GOP should focusing on building the technological apparatus--the tools are the means, not the end--to give whoever emerges as the candidate next fall the best ability to run a grassroots, engaging, and invigorated campaign.