You know folks, it is remarkable what has happened in the race for Republican National Committee Chairman. In the past, when we had an "open" seat (i.e. no sitting president to anoint the chairman), we have had spirited contests; but nothing like this year. This is truly an unprecedented election for RNC Chairman, to wit, the numbers....
1-The number of direct mail campaigns from seven candidates has filled a three ring notebook and denuded a small forest;
2-The number of e-mail, twitters, and text messages that should never be read while driving;
3-The number of phone calls has used every one's carryover minutes;
4-The number of public appearances by the candidates has proven that they can all speak on their feet (and their seat) and answer questions from friendly and semi-hostile audiences;
5-The number of personal visits to a large number of states (and U.S. Territories!) to obtain one vote (literally) at a time;
6-The number of anonymous negative e-mails and letters, most likely sent by consultants and not the candidates themselves (at least that is my hope);
7- The number of dollars spent and consultants and staff employed, this could be the single most expensive per capita vote of all time...
A few of my thoughts on what this means:
First, congratulations to each of the candidates. When I first saw the roster of candidates, I have to admit that I was somewhat under whelmed. We didn't have a superstar step forward nor did the committee immediately embrace a new personality to lead the party into a better future. However, because of the personal contact and extraordinary communications efforts by the campaigns it is clear that we have very competent and yes, even compelling candidates. We have seen campaigns that demonstrate this competence and each candidate has demonstrated their commitment to conservative values and making the changes required to move the party forward.
Second, I'm very unhappy with the negative tone that has been foisted upon this election by what I perceive to be those with agendas not necessarily consistent with that of the committee as a whole. How can we claim the high road or the high moral ground when it comes to politics when even an election to influence and persuade 168 people becomes subjected to the kind of innuendo and outright character assassination that we have seen? It is a cowardly act to smear and criticize without divulging who you are and who you represent. I give the candidates themselves the benefit of the doubt that they are honorable and not directing this activity.
Third, in a time when we are appalled by the "alleged" pay for play antics of the Illinois Governor it seems a bit disingenuous for our candidates to engage in the making of specific promises for votes. Okay, I get it that there are rewards for those who step up and make commitments... but let's not kid ourselves... If we are on the receiving end of such offers we should have the integrity to allow whoever is elected to be fully unencumbered from having to reward people for votes cast. Let's keep the new Chairman available to make the best decisions for the national party. And by the way that goes for consultants as well... maybe double. (Okay, I know this sounds naive.. but hey, I can always hope).
And finally, this is by far the most expensive and extensive campaign for RNC Chairman in history. All of this attention to persuade at least 85 people to cast their vote for one person has cost a pretty penny. Some candidates have called in favors, received donations, and had in-kind contributions. Some have 527s through which they are accounting for this flow of money and some will simply file the appropriate IRS forms identifying donors and amounts of monies received and spent in this campaign. I believe that the candidates should fully disclose, before the election, what they have received and from whom.
The RNC does not have a rule on this (it probably wasn't really needed in the past...), but there are rules with respect to the IRS and 527s and it just seems that whatever system they are operating under, the candidates should fully disclose. In the future, the party should establish a rule to specifically address this, such as FEC type guidelines. In either case, Candidates should disclose monies received and from whom, and in addition, what consultants they are either paying or from whom they are receiving in-kind assistance. Transparency in the campaigns for Chairman is essential to instill trust in the process and the party's leadership.
In Conclusion: Notwithstanding the comments above,(which I believe are very important to address), this has been the best campaign for Chairman of the RNC in history because it has fully engaged the entire committee. There have been debates, interviews, forums and one on one meetings by phone, Internet, television, and in person. This process has been good for each member of the committee but especially for each of the candidates. It has personalized them and qualified them to us and made those of us who will vote very comfortable that whoever is elected will do the job that needs to be done. This is not a vote of who will do the least harm; it is a vote for good, better, and best. For that, we can all be grateful.