This op-ed was first published in the Union Leader on December 26, 2022
ON JANUARY 28, more than 500 Republican office-holders and activists will convene in Salem to elect officers and set an agenda. Here are seven steps on the path to success in future elections.
Step 1: Elect new leadership. National Committeeman Chris Ager represented our state well with the RNC in Washington. As Hillsborough County GOP chairman, he ran hugely successful fundraising events. Chris Ager is a good candidate for state GOP chairman. Karoline Leavitt has youthful energy, good looks and personality. The convention should find a role for her; if not vice chairman, something comparable.
Step 2: Slough off the past like dead snake skin. Whether you think the Democrats won in 2020 because they took advantage of changes in election laws during COVID, or you think the election was stolen, it is over. Candidates in New Hampshire and nationally who looked backward lost in 2022 and fell into the ditch. Only Republican candidates who look ahead can succeed in 2024. We need new candidates with new ideas, not grudges and scores to settle.
Step 3: Besides looking forward, look outward. Stop the bickering and internal fighting. Do not sweat the small stuff. It is far better to have Republican candidates and officeholders you agree with 80% of the time than Democrats you agree with only 20% of the time. Turf battles are not leadership. They do not win elections.
Step 4: Avoid extreme positions. Campaign on issues on which you can win. Read the handwriting on the wall. Better yet, read the polls. New Hampshire law and the polls tell you where voters are on abortion. We all believe in the Second Amendment, but every constitutional guarantee is subject to reasonable regulation, even, or especially, gun ownership. Democrats are the extremists who are pro-criminal and anti-police, favor open borders, fuel inflation through undisciplined spending, and promote Critical Race Theory, and sexual fluidity. But remember, we cannot beat their extreme positions with extreme positions of our own.
Step 5: Cut taxes, not benefits. In New Hampshire, phased reductions in business and enterprise taxes helped create a $400 million surplus and gave $100 million back to cities and towns to lower property taxes. Republicans support smaller government and budget cuts, but not when the program benefits them. That means Social Security and Medicare. Save your ideas about privatizing them and cutting programs that are here to stay.
Step 6: Have an inclusive message. The Democrats’ message is divisive, pitting one voter group against another: teachers’ unions against parents; college graduates against blue collar workers who will pay off their student loans; Blacks against Whites. Republicans must speak to middle Americans who feel left behind in the new economy and to those in a newer generation who think they cannot get ahead without the government’s help. Republicans must reach those groups with a unified message: private sector jobs, not government borrowing, lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. If you have a skill or a trade, there is a good job waiting for you.
Step 7: Get out the vote. In the November election, according to the N.H. Secretary of State’s Office, there were 925,398 voters on the checklist and 626,931 ballots cast. That is about a 68% turnout. But it also means 32%, or nearly 300,000, eligible voters did not vote. Every Republican who did not vote in the last election helped a Democrat get elected. Campaigning has become too dependent on advertising and social media. Elections are won in the Granite State the old-fashioned way, by having an organization of volunteers, shaking hands, knocking on doors, calling friends; and, after identifying your voters, getting them out to vote. Election Day is the one day we are truly equal. Remind your fellow Republicans it is not just their right, but a duty to vote.
Wayne C. Beyer is a New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. lawyer who served appointments in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. He lives in North Conway.