El Dorado County Politico Seeks State Party Office
Rodney Stanhope, former El Dorado County Republican Party Executive Director, has announced his run for California Republican Party Vice Chair.
Stanhope, a Navy Vet that is in San Diego today attending his son’s Graduation in the US Marine corps sat down with me earlier this week to talk about his goals for the Republican Party in California.
Goal number one for Stanhope is to return the Party to a grassroots organization that puts volunteers first. The Republican Party “can’t win without a team,” said Stanhope. He noted that the low conservative voter turnout was a problem with the Party’s ground game. Too many conservatives were “not involved” because we took a top down approach and neglected the base.
Stanhope noted that the “Top” of the ticket is not the answer to turnout even though the highest turnout is during presidential election. Many people will go to the polls to support a Presidential candidate and will leave many lower ticket elections un-voted because they do not know any local candidates or the issues related to them. On the other hand, when a voter goes to vote because of a local candidate, the top half of the ticket is voted without any problem. Therefore he believes that the Party needs to engage local voters on local issues and candidates and most importantly needs to engage local volunteer activist to generate the interest and enthusiasm to get higher turnout numbers.
Stanhope’s position is that everything hinges on turnout. The Party’s position is solid but we fail to communicate it in a manner that gets people to the voting booth and getting them to vote what they already believe is critical. There will always be some voter fraud and when the race is 50.3% to 49.7%, voter fraud can be a real issue that changes races. By pushing that race to a margin 60% to 40%, the small amount of fraud no longer effects the outcome of the race ha said.
Even without fraud, the Democrats have been killing us in getting out the last minute vote and this is going to become even more important in two years as California shifts to same-day voter registration and voting he said. Same day registration and voting became law this last Tuesday in California and the state plans to start the process in 2014 election.
Slick mail pieces and expensive television advertising has its place said Stanhope, but they serve to help a voter take a position without much effect on actual turnout. To get turnout, the Party needs a well-organized and enthusiastic army of volunteers on the ground he said.
The GOTV ground game is only one place that Stanhope thinks the Party needs improvement. He thinks that the Party has failed to get the message out in a manner that compels voters. There are universal issues that all voters support like good jobs and good prospects for children that the Party positions support, but we spend too much time infighting about divisive issues. We need to get back to the fundamental issues and construct the message in a way that voters understand and in a manner that compels them to want to vote to support those issues. Immigrants are overcoming tremendous obstacles to get here. Why, we must know. Because they want to escape oppressive dependency on the government and to get a level of freedom and opportunity that America offers. The same things that republican Polices offer. We just need to tell the truth about our Party’s policies instead of alienating voters and driving them into the opposition’s Party.
The Party operatives know this and have the strategies to make it happen. Now we need to push this down to county organizations and help them organize says Stanhope. We need to give all conservative organizations support to build motivated teams of volunteers on a local level. That is where most voters will interact with policy discussion and meet candidates. This is what motivates people to vote. It is these relationships that enable the Party to have an effective GOTV program he said.
Stanhope acknowledges that the Party has lost the support of many donors that went directly to the campaign. This was no surprise said Stanhope. Money goes to where things get done. He worked on several of those campaigns and he demonstrated that local volunteer organizations got the work done. “If the state Party fails to be effective then I expect donors to circumvent them,” he said. "My goal is to make the Party effective, make it the place where the work gets done." The money will take care of itself as “the money follows the action,” Stanhope said.
Stanhope put it this way, when two candidates show up asking for donations and one comes with two heavy-hitter and the other comes with 50 motivated grassroots volunteers, the support is going to the grassroots support. "My job as Vice Chair is to help every candidate and every conservative organization develop and deploy those grassroots volunteers to win election."
Stanhope lamented that the Volunteer used to matter more to the Party. It seems the Party has forgotten the importance of graasroots volunteers and fallen susceptible to the criticism that it is just a Party of old rich men. “We must, and we will, engage the regular voter. We must support and motivate grassroots volunteers that reflect the community,” said Stanhope.
Stanhope also talked about a long history of his involvement in politics starting when his father was working for Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial campaign, but I will cover that in part two of this interview. I will also cover his non-political work with Yellow Ribbon America, a support project for military families.