Sunday, January 23, 2011

Will GOP Reverse 2010 Gains Under Wilber?

I’ve often written that there isn’t a way for Republicans around here to shoot themselves in the foot they haven’t thought of, but I that have great confidence in their ability to invent new ones. And once again, it appears they’ve done it. At their recent state meeting, the party ousted moderate former state legislator Luke Esser in favor of longtime conservative talk show host Kirby Wilber.

The Democrats immediately began gleefully proclaiming the R’s had elected Washington’s version of Rush Limbaugh as their new leader. Based on 16 years of his radio rhetoric, they could be right. Meanwhile, look for the Democrats to make Wilber’s radio tirades the focal point of their election rhetoric rather than individual candidates. In races where Republicans have good, solid candidates, or in closes races, look for the Democrats to use the "guilt by association" strategy — tying those potential winning candidates to Wilber's radio rhetoric — which has potential to undo many of the strides R’s made in 2010.  

Esser was an even-handed, pragmatist who was very successful in recruiting better quality candidates than at any time in recent memory. Wilber says he wants to take the party in a “new direction” (Read: hard right). Voters want action and civility — not confrontational rhetoric. And while some Republicans were unhappy with the gains the party made under Esser in light of what happened nationally, I suspect under Wilber, the Republicans will have a hard time recruiting the quality of candidates the party desperately needs to sustain and strengthen the gains it made in 2010.


  1. For some time there has been a STRONG feeling among many grassroots activists that the Washington State Republican party needed new leadership. In the view of many the WSRP has been reduced to an elite social club, which spends all their time rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.
    The outcome of Dino Rossi's pathetic last-minute non-confrontational "stealth campaign" certainly did not help things any!!
    The WSRP needs to become an actual political party that will confront its opponents head-on.
    In any event, I expect that Kirby will do an excellent job.

  2. Luke Esser was a terrific leader but he is such a known commodity for the democrats to abuse, take for granted and dismiss.
    I believe Wilbur will take on a little less tactfully, the legions of democrats who do not understand cooperation or care for that matter. He will assert the weak conservative position more forcefully and adopt a platform that demands to be listened to and valued.

  3. Luke Esser has been a terrific leader for the Republicans in Washington State but he is a known commodity to be manipulated and dismissed by the democrats. Secure arrogance by the ruling party has created an atmosphere where they think the republicans are non-essential to any legislating. Wilbur, I believe, will not be as easily underestimated and in the reality of non-cooperation by the democrats, more assertive in representing the conservative movement.

  4. I understand the frustratuon with the ruling party you express, and I can certainly sympathize.

    That said...
    Kilby Wilber will NOT be able to attract the moderate candidates the Rs need to win a majority because of his well-known and documented right-wing rhetoric. The Rs MUST have candidates whose message will resonate with the moderate to conservative Ds in the swing districts. It is THEY who will alter the balance of power — not litmus test consevatives. Wilber will NOT be able to attract them. The conservative "nut job" fringe will gravitate to him in droves, and while their message might sound good to the conservative base, it will NOT resonate with very people the Rs MUST have to actually WIN a majority.

    In my observation, conservatives would rather field candidates who sound good to the minority base, as opposed to the majority of voters, rather then actually WIN an election — and therein lies the problem.

    In my view, Wilber is EXACTLY the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, to move the party forward, and his leadership will cause the party to erase the gains it made in 2010.

    What's the defination of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting a different result. Will the Rs EVER learn? I doubt it.

    Just saying...

  5. Anonymous12:59 PM

    Rease the gains in 2010 ? Your kidding . This opportunity the GOP missed on you mean in this state ? You think the GOP had a good state presentation Lary ?

    My opinion is one who basically is outside looking in. I guess since I quit the GOP in 2006. The rhetoric of Kirby I have listened to on radio when I up was that early , I work swing , but also at conventions very passionate , sincere and yes bias towards republican issues. This belief because your conservative make you out of the picture as a republican is silliness Lary . You know as well it is presentation . I identified myself as a Reagan Republican , which by all standards is out in the fields to some of the moderate republicans to the issues he believed in . But we had the Tea party candidate kicking Rossi in the head after the primary , showing that it is not moderates who are the only problem here, its leadership and the folks willing to see that if you got some one on your side 80 percent of the time , it is better then having someone on your side 10 percent of the time . Leadership. Not moderates making a big issue of how even minded they are , in fact some of the most corrosive, deliberately sneaky politics i have seen have been done by moderates in the party . When I was involved in Kitsap politics, I was always spending time patching up their behind the back stuff lary . They hated the fact the grassroots was by people who basically felt passionate about issues they did not . But instead of doing the Rreagan 80 percent rule , they actually would form up and undermine those folks . I never got into the McCoys V Hatfield republican wars , but this Kirby Wilbur piece you wrote about reminds me of it .
    Kirby can not do any worse then what the GOP had . Surprised at you lary, The democrats in this state have caused us to have sonme severe spending and accountability problems . The GOP is letting them off the hook , talking about shooting ourselves in the foot . I am not even a republican and I am limping .

    Take aim at the folks who failed to fund our pension funds, spent on new programs at the detriment to funding education and our transportation. On the social issues the republicans need to use the lefts playbook , after all who is really in our bedrooms and wombs ?
    Where in Seattle you see bumper Sickers from Democrats about stopping republicans from breeding because of their traditional stance on Marriage, they have legislation in the works that work to limit the ability of those religious based pregnancy centers . During a recession these folks spend about 18 million dollars a year on baby supplies, medicine , food , shelter , etc for moms . Ya think the state actually wanted charities to step up when our Governor asked . Unless that charity may save a life . We should be holding the left accountable , leave Kirby alone .

    He is a good man . he is an honest man . And I think he needs a job . ;0)

    just saying back at ya
    Mick Sheldon