Over at Capitol Ideas, there’s also some good advice for Republicans:
Find Candidates That Fit Their Constituencies And Districts. If he were advising Democrats, Republican consultantÂ Ray Zaborney of Harrisburg said he’d tell them to “find people who are true to where your party is, but make sure you modernize your message.”
Fresh off a trip to Virginia, where he advised state Republicans,Â ZaborneyÂ pointed to GOP gubernatorial candidateÂ Robert McDonnell, who he says beat DemocratÂ Creigh Deeds last week by appealing both to moderates and the party’s conservative base.
“Bob McDonnell is as conservative as they come, but he talked about issues people care about,”Â Zaborney said.
He contrasted McDonnell with the example ofÂ Doug Hoffman, theÂ Conservative Party candidate who was defeated by DemocratÂ Bill Owens, handing the Democrats a win in New York’sÂ 23rd Congressional District for the first time in a century.
Unlike the doctrinaireÂ Hoffman, who was backed by national conservatives,McDonnell “stayed true to his principles, but moved past just tax cuts and vouchers for education,”Â Zaborney said.
“The one who wins is the one that consolidates both sides of their party best and, of course, the middle,” he said.
I’ve never believed the common wisdom often heard on conservative talk radio that if only we ran candidates who were conservative enough, we’d be guaranteed victory. It’s certainly a mistake to run left leaning candidates like Scozzafava in a district that could support a right-of-center moderate, but Doug Hoffman probably wasn’t the right man for that district. Understand that he lost in a year when Democratic turnout was pitiful. He might have won the seat for one term, or two, but if he governed too far to the right of his district, he’d be open to an attack from the center. If anyone doesn’t think that’s a possibility, just ask Rick Santorum.
Whether Republicans want to admit it or not, the Democrats have made great gains by running candidates who tailored their message to their districts, and are now using it to push an agenda that is far to the left, even for many of the Democrats they used to get their majority back.Â I fully believe the Democrats will be punished in 2010 for running too far to the left of the country, but it’s hard to argue the strategy hasn’t been effective for promoting a progressive agenda. The GOP has a lot they can learn in the example.