Stories by Fred Bauer

Fred Bauer is a writer from New England.  He blogs at A Certain Enthusiasm.

GOP Takes On Jesse Jackson Jr.

July 9th, 2010 at 2:37 pm 3 Comments

IL-02 is represented in Congress by Jesse Jackson, Jr. This district has not sent a Republican to Congress for decades.

Yet the Republican party has a new standard bearer in this district: minister and community activist Isaac Hayes. A former Democrat, Hayes is making a play for Jackson’s seat by hitting Jackson on one of the areas where he may be most vulnerable: ethics. As Kyle Stone writes:

But with Jackson making headlines more recently as “Senate Candidate No. 5″ and allegations that his supporters offered to pay then-Governor Rod Blagojevich to appoint him to the Senate, Hayes sees his opening. And while Jackson’s role in the Blagojevich scandal remains unclear, he has not escaped unscathed. Jackson was named one of the fifteen most corrupt members of Congress by the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, and Hayes is rightfully making his integrity gap a campaign issue.

Hayes’s campaign is wisely staying away from national hot-button rhetoric and is focusing on a few key talking points: “Integrity in Illinois,” “Jobs and Small Business Investment,” “Parental Choice in Education,” and “Safe Neighborhoods.”

By reframing conservative notions about personal responsibility, decentralization, and civic opportunity, Hayes may be able to break through conventional dogma about Republicans in his district. For example, in his response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Chicago gun ban, Hayes argued that this ruling will provide increased protection to families and private property.

Consider Hayes’s discussion of improving the business environment:

The role of government is to create the conditions to spur innovation and sustainable economic growth. Due to a lack of real leadership, Illinois is 48th in job creation, ahead only of Massachusetts and Ohio. We need a trickle-in economy that reduces the barriers to producing goods and services, stimulates investment in business infrastructure and equity markets, and provides business training, seed capital grants and support to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch a microenterprise. Congress must work to free up the credit markets so that families can once again finance a new home, a new car, or a college education for their kids. It is time to get America moving again and that starts by helping families through these tough times. Families like those in Ford Heights which has a 53% poverty rate.

This is a very pro-growth message, but one tailored to the conditions of many poor communities in IL-02. Note that here Hayes is not talking about how it’s the government’s job to create innovation or economic growth, but to create the conditions for innovation and growth.

Hayes’s swipe about the “lack of real leadership” clearly plays to anti-incumbency sentiment. Hayes’s continued focus on ethical issues may also appeal to voters tired of the Congressional status quo; he even embeds these issues in his web address (

A Hayes victory here would certainly be hard-fought. But some polls do show scandals taking their toll on Rep. Jackson.

And whether or not Hayes wins in 2010, a strong Hayes showing would be the first step in restoring Republican standing in IL-02. In 2008, Jackson won with nearly 90% of the vote. As Republicans seek to rebuild the party, they should do their best to increase their appeal in these kinds of heavily-Democratic districts. The current political paradigm may be shifting, so the GOP should make the most of the opportunity of 2010. If a Republican could get even 30% of the vote in this heavily African-American district, that could lay the groundwork for a stronger Republican showing in 2012 and beyond. A short-term expenditure here could lead to long-term favorable outcomes for the GOP.

Originally published at A Certain Enthusiasm.

GOP Pushes Back 2012 Primary Calendar

July 7th, 2010 at 4:55 pm 3 Comments

A key RNC committee proposes changes in the primary calendar for 2012, the Hotline reports:

The new rule, written after months of painstaking negotiations among senior members of the national committee, would push the beginning of the presidential nominating process back a month, to February, as part of a plan to prevent wealthy candidates from stealing the nomination.

GOP caucuses and primaries would be held that month in the 4 early states — the rule codifies IA, NH, SC and NV as states allowed to hold contests in a “pre-window.” Every other state would be allowed to hold their nominating contests on or after the first Tuesday in March.

But there’s an important caveat, members of the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee said: Any state that holds its nominating contest before the first day of April — that is, any state that rushes to front-load their nominating process — will have to award their delegates on a proportional basis.

That’s a dramatic change from previous party rules; many states awarded delegates on a winner-take-all basis, setting up key dates on which candidates could win big chunks of delegates and shut out their rivals. In ’08, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) won all of FL’s delegates, even though he won just 36% of the vote. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee won a combined 59% of the vote — and no delegates. Giuliani, who had viewed the state as a firewall, dropped out of the race that night.

This is a welcome change for Republicans in a variety of ways. As Ed Morrissey notes, this change would allow for candidates with lower initial name recognition to have a stronger shot at the nomination and would also draw out the primary contest.

One of the principal benefits of a drawn-out primary calendar that starts with smaller states is that it allows candidates who might not start out with the most money or the highest name ID to prove themselves to the voters, building a movement state-by-state, county-by-county. A national primary or a primary that is extraordinarily front-loaded greatly incentivizes the ability to raise money fast and generate free national media coverage. This set of incentives might not always lead to the strongest general election candidate.

Stretching out the primary calendar may also have other electoral benefits for Republicans in the 2012 cycle. 2008 witnessed the slightly unpleasant spectacle of the primary campaign beginning in earnest at the end of 2006/very beginning of 2007, a situation only exacerbated by the front-loaded primary schedule. Some of the most intriguing possibilities for the GOP nomination (such as Bobby Jindal, Scott Brown, and Chris Christie) could only benefit from spending a little bit more time ripening on the national stage. Christie, for example, would hardly be a plausible candidate if he had to stop governing at the end of this year in order to conduct a year-and-a-half primary campaign. But by around the middle to later part of 2011, if his budget gamble has paid off, Christie could make a very strong case indeed.

There is no historical necessity for a primary battle to begin almost two years before the election. Bill Clinton waited until October of 1991 to declare that he was running. And a drawn-out primary fight in 1992 only strengthened his candidacy.

Regardless of which party controls Congress after the 2010 elections, 2011 looks likely to be a very fluid year. Especially if Republicans end up controlling the House and/or the Senate, they will need to have as much focus on governing as possible throughout 2011. Pushing back the primary calendar and drawing it out can only help them in this regard.

Originally published at A Certain Enthusiasm.

Defeating Obamacare with GOPcare

March 18th, 2010 at 8:50 am 10 Comments

If Republicans and moderates and disaffected “progressives” are serious about cobbling together a majority to delay the deeming and passing of the Senate bill, they would be wise to stress their openness to and even eagerness for the passing of a smaller, more targeted reform measure. As Allahpundit suggests, a pledge to make healthcare reform the number two priority next year (behind jobs) on the part of Republican leaders could be effective.

I think opponents of the Senate bill might go even further and state that they want to keep working on healthcare this year. There is a moderate coalition out there in support of a variety of reforms for healthcare.

Currently, the lefty radicals have been driving the debate—that it’s either this bill or no bill, “reform” or stagnation. Centrists cannot let the radicals monopolize the mantle of reform and they should not accept the radicals’ interpretation of history. There are more choices than the partisans pose.

Currently, the centrists are serving as legislative cannon-fodder for many of the radicals in Congress. The actions of Democratic leadership, overwhelmingly supported by the left wing of the Congress, have endangered the moderates’ electoral chances, and now the moderates are being asked (or threatened) to take another big swallow and vote for this measure.

If an authentically moderate reform passes the House and the Senate, the president can sign it and still take credit for it. He might express some disappointment with the limitations of the measure, but he can still sign it with fanfare. Moderate Democrats can still give their president a win, if he wants it.

Opponents of the Senate bill should give fence-sitters something to vote for or at least the possibility of something to vote for. Real legislative reform can happen that can cross party lines. There is a place still for the vital center in politics, Senate bill opponents might remind the undecideds. Voting “no” on this bill need not be a vote for inaction—merely a vote for a different kind of action.

Originally posted at A Certain Enthusiasm.